Just days after losing in the first round of March Madness, Rick Pitino is heading to St. John’s University to become its next head basketball coach.

Pitino, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, reportedly had talks with the university after his Iona Gaels team lost to the UConn Huskies in the NCAA Tournament. On Monday it became official.

«One of my fondest memories as a coach was having the distinctive privilege of coaching against Lou Carnesecca and St. John’s, a Hall of Fame coach and storied program that I have always respected,» Pitino said in an official St. John’s statement. about hiring. . «It’s surreal now to have this opportunity to return St. John’s to prominence. I’m honored, honored and grateful to Father Shanley, Bill Janetschek and Mike Cragg for making me feel so special.»

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Iona Gaels head coach Rick Pitino watches during the first half against the Connecticut Huskies during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament held at MVP Arena on March 17, 2023 in Albany, NY. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Pitino, 70, replaces Mike Anderson as head coach, who was fired after four seasons with a mediocre 68-56 record in 124 games. The New York Post reported that Pitino broke the news to his Iona players on Sunday after St. John’s offered him the role.

The Post adds that St. John’s location close to his home in Mamaroneck, New York, was a key factor, as well as playing at Madison Square Garden. Pitino was the head coach of the New York Knicks from 1987 to 1989 before returning to college with the Kentucky Wildcats.

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Pitino has been with Iona for the past three seasons, and after a 12-6 campaign in 2020-21, his Gaels finished 25-8 and 27-8, respectively. Both teams won the regular season championship, but this year’s Iona team won the MAAC Tournament to become the 13th seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Despite a very close game against UConn, they lost 87-63 on Friday. It was there that Pitino was asked about his future as a coach as the rumors about St. John’s came before the First Round.

«I don’t really have an answer, to be honest with you,» Pitino said. «I have no idea if it is or not because I have focused everything on this game, trying to develop a plan to beat connecticut

Head coach Rick Pitino of the Iona Gaels reacts in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 17, 2023 in Albany, New York.

Head coach Rick Pitino of the Iona Gaels reacts in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 17, 2023 in Albany, New York. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Pitino has 35 years of experience as a college head coach, leading three different programs to the Final Four in the process. Kentucky was one of them, as were Louisville and Providence.

Having coached with Louisville and Providence, Pitino is aware of how competitive Big East basketball can be, so the Red Storm is happy to have agreed to lead his team next season and beyond.

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«I am delighted to welcome Rick Pitino and his family to the St. John family,» said St. John University President, the Rev. Brian J. Shanley, in a statement. «I am thrilled that this seasoned veteran coach, who has won at the highest levels and is as passionate as ever, is committed to leading our student-athletes and program to national prominence. Rick knows BIG EAST basketball and is determined to take over and keep the Red Storm show where we know it belongs.»

Pitino was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Pitino will be tasked with getting better recruits in the building to play his fast-paced style on the court that has seen success over the years.

Head coach Rick Pitino of the Iona Gaels looks on in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 17, 2023 in Albany, New York.

Head coach Rick Pitino of the Iona Gaels looks on in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies during the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 17, 2023 in Albany, New York. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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St. John’s hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament since the 2018-2019 season, when they lost in the First Four.

Joe Morgan of Fox News contributed to this report..