Richard Pitino photo by USA Today Sports Images
MINNEAPOLIS - Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, will be the next head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Pitino, who led Florida International to 18 victories in his first season as a head coach, has agreed in principle to a deal to replace Smith with the Gophers, according to Director of Athletics Norwood Teague.
Teague said the terms of the agreement will be finalized later this week. A news conference will offer further details, Teague added.
"He doesn't have a strong, long resume yet, but I think Minnesota is taking a chance on young, up-and-coming guy," said USA Today college basketball reporter Nicole Auerbach.
Two people with knowledge of the discussions say Pitino engaged in negotiations during a Wednesday meeting in Florida.
"I think this is the kind of guy that Athletic Director Norwood Teague wanted. He's hired young coaches who are on the rise. He hired Shaka Smart at VCU and obviously that worked out pretty well," said Auerbach. "It's a high-risk, high-reward situation."
In his lone season at Florida International, Pitino led the Panthers to an 18-14 record, the school's first winning season in 13 years.
"It's just a shocker that he left, especially with a great recruiting class coming in as well as some of the transfers that are going be playing for us next year like Raymond Taylor and Rakeem Buckles," senior guard Manny Nunez told FIU student media. "We had one of the best seasons in FIU history and we were going in the right direction. I'm just shocked he would leave right now."
Pitino will turn 31 in September, fitting the profile of the young, up-and-comer that Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague has preferred to hire in the past.
He was previously an assistant to his dad at Louisville and at Florida with Billy Donovan.
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