Rick Pitino reportedly agrees to six-year deal with St. John’s

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Rick Pitino will become the new men’s basketball coach at St. John’s, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the school had not yet made the announcement. Pitino is expected to be formally introduced by St. John’s during a press conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

ESPN reported Monday that Pitino had agreed to a six-year contract. The report said Pitino would inform his Iona Gaels team of his decision to leave in a meeting Monday afternoon.

John Fanta of FOX Sports reported Saturday that St. John’s intended to hire Pitino and that the coach was interested in the position.

Pitino’s Gaels concluded their season with an 87-63 loss to UConn on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Pitino, 70, is the only coach in college basketball history to lead three programs (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to the Final Four, and has won 711 games in his coaching career. Won the national championship in 1996 (Kentucky) and 2013 (Louisville, which was later vacated).

The president of the University of St. John’s Brian Shanley and athletic director Mike Cragg saw their coaching search as an opportunity to turn the Red Storm back into a major force in college basketball, sources told Fanta. The program missed four straight NCAA Tournaments under Mike Anderson and hasn’t won a game in the big ball in 23 years.

For Pitino, who lives at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., the prospect of coaching at St. John’s means you don’t have to move, as the course is about 23 miles from the campus of the University of St. John’s.

The return to Queens gives him a chance to move back to the Big East Conference, where he was from 1985-87 while at Providence, and then from 2005-2013 at Louisville.

For a program of St. John’s has spent several years off the national map in college basketball, this move to acquire Pitino, who is no longer tied to the NCAA investigation or the threat of sanctions, indicates a clear desire to win with the Red Storm and of returning to relevance in New York City.

St. John’s has the ninth-most wins among Division I teams, with 90 winning seasons in its 116-year basketball history.

The school has reached two Final Fours (1952, 1985) and won the NIT a record six times, including back-to-back crowns in the 1940s, when the event was still often considered the nation’s premier postseason tournament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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