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Rick Pitino shares what is ‘not enjoyable’ to him about college basketball

Rick Pitino at a press conference

Mar 16, 2023; Albany, NY, USA; Iona Gaels head coach Rick Pitino speaks during a press conference at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino is not happy with the current state of college basketball, and the reason why should not come as much of a surprise.

Pitino was a guest on an episode of the “Pardon My Take” podcast that was released this week. During the interview, the St. John’s coach bluntly stated that he is “not enjoying what goes on right now in college basketball.”

Pitino spoke about how the most most rewarding part of coaching for him has been watching star players like Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Donovan Mitchell and Terry Rozier stick with his program and grow. That is becoming far less common across college athletics with the new name, image and likeness rules.

“I may be looking at three guys returning next year and I gotta bring in 10. They all become free agents,” Pitino said. “What I really don’t like about where I’m at right now is we’re sitting around in meetings saying, ‘I’m hearing this guy from North Carolina may be available; this guy from Duke, Cincinnati; this guy from Wisconsin may leave; this guy from Ohio State.’ I was at Iona and the entire league was poached. Every good player in the MAC was poached by another school.

Pitino said the landscape of college basketball is totally different now from the game he used to love. He does not blame players for trying to maximize their earning potential, but he just doesn’t enjoy his job the way he used to because of it.

“For someone growing up and who’s loved college basketball, it’s just not something I like. .. It’s something I’m not used to, something I don’t like, and it’s not enjoyable,” Pitino added.

Many of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball and football have retired recently, and it is no secret that the NIL era was the primary reason some — if not all — of them walked away. Pitino said that is what chased Jay Wright out of college basketball.

The same issues exist in college football, and coaches who have been around for a while largely feel the same way as Pitino. Even Nick Saban, who initially denied that his shocking retirement was because of NIL rules, recently made a big admission about why he left Alabama.


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