Rick Pitino recently said he was planning to return to Greece to coach Panathinaikos next season if his children were on board with it, and the Hall of Fame coach has decided not to go that route.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Pitino has turned down an offer to return as president and head coach of Panathinaikos, as he is hoping to earn a full-time role with an NBA team. He said he is open to coaching or working in a player personnel or advisory role.
Panathinaikos was 7-0 when Pitino was named head coach, and he led the team to a perfect 15-0 record and a Greek Cup title. The 66-year-old said earlier this month that he is prepared to give up college basketball forever if he returns to Greece to coach next season and that he would make a decision after speaking with his kids. He previously insisted he was not interested in leaving Europe for a college job, and that still appears to be the case.
Pitino is one of the best college coaches of all time. He has won two national championships — one in 1996 and Kentucky and another in 2013 with Louisville, which was vacated. He was fired by Louisville in Oct. 2017 after being involved in a scandal involving the payment to a recruit who ended up at the school. He previously got into trouble with the NCAA and had a championship and Final Four appearance vacated over a sex scandal.
Pitino, 66, had two separate coaching stints in the NBA. He coached the Knicks for two seasons from 1987-1989 and then coached the Celtics from 1997-2001 before resigning in the middle of his fourth season. It’s unclear if there will be any interest in him from NBA teams, though he was linked to one head coaching vacancy last month.