College Basketball Coaching Carousel Underway

Mar 21, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Rick Pitino is introduced as new St. John’s head coach at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament is still underway for some teams, but for others, it is already the off-season. Teams have already been firing and hiring coaches as they turn the page to next season. Every hire causes a chain reaction, resulting in an entertaining off-season. The coaching carousel is in full swing.

College Basketball Coaching Carousel Underway

St. John’s Hires Rick Pitino

The Red Storm fired former coach Mike Anderson after he compiled a 68-56 record and no NCAA Tournament appearances over four seasons. In what was the worst-kept secret in all of college basketball, Rick Pitino returns to a power conference. He joins his third Big East team, as he previously coached at Providence and Louisville (Big East from 2005-2013).

Pitino had great success at Iona the past three seasons as he steamrolled through the MAAC, winning 64 games and making 2 NCAA Tournaments. Pitino is well known for winning a national championship with both Kentucky and Louisville. He’s now tasked with reviving the Red Storm, which hasn’t had a winning culture since the late 1990s. He was given a six-year contract, but Pitino says he wants to make an immediate impact. Expect St. John’s to be a big player in the transfer portal to complement current guard Posh Alexander.

Iona Retools with Tobin Anderson

Obviously, Iona lost their head coach once Pitino left for Queens. However, the Gaels didn’t have to look too far for their new head coach. Tobin Anderson’s coaching stock saw a huge increase as his Fairleigh Dickinson Knights became the second-ever 16-seed to defeat a 1-seed. This past season was his only season on the division I level, but he has 21 years of experience across the division II and division III levels.

Even before hiring Rick Pitino, the Gaels were a well-respected mid-major. They’ve now made the NCAA Tournament in eight of the last twelve years. Anderson is landing in a great situation as he looks to continue his success and Iona’s success. If Anderson’s stock keeps soaring he may not be at Iona for long.

Ed Cooley Stuns Providence; Leaves for Georgetown

Former Hoya Patrick Ewing simply just didn’t work out in Georgetown. After a surprising Big East Tournament title in 2021, Ewing led the Hoyas to a 2-37 Big East record over his final two seasons. He was fired a few weeks ago, and Georgetown had a long list of potential hires.

Ed Cooley was the Friar’s head coach for the past 12 seasons, and the program saw the most constant success since the 1970s with Dave Gavitt. Cooley was born and raised in Providence, which made coaching his Friars even more special. However, in a shocking turn of events, even after signing a “lifetime” contract, he has bolted for Georgetown.

The Hoyas have historically been a fantastic program and are in a fantastic area for recruiting. Star point guard, Primo Spears, has already entered the transfer portal, leaving the roster with scarce talent. Cooley should still be able to turn around the program quicker than most, and the looming matchups against Providence next year should spark a rivalry. Providence will be a highly sought-after job.

Paul Mills Heads to Wichita State

This signing might go slightly more under the radar, but it is significant. Paul Mills led Oral Roberts to a shocking Sweet 16 appearance in 2021 after upsetting 2-seed Ohio State. Additionally, his Golden Eagles went 30-5 this past season with an NCAA Tournament appearance, and he had an 84-42 coaching record over the past four seasons. One other feather in his cap is that he is a branch on the Scott Drew coaching tree.

Wichita State was the premier mid-major program of the early 2010s. With a Final Four appearance in 2013 and a historic 34-0 record entering the NCAA Tournament in 2014, the Shockers were highly respected. Since joining the American Conference in 2017 the program has been good, not great. However, the American Conference will look drastically different next season. Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF will all be leaving the conference after combining for eight NCAA Tournaments over the past five postseasons. FAU, UAB, and North Texas, among others, will be joining the conference in their place. Wichita State has a prime opportunity to rejuvenate its program with this opportunity, although the Shockers might lose Jaykwon Walton to the transfer portal.

Other Potential Move on the Coach Carousel

Mike Brey was not retained as Notre Dame’s head coach after a long tenure in South Bend. He recently interviewed with USF, but it seems he may also be interested in trying media.

Dusty May led FAU to a 33-3 record so far this season and a Sweet 16 appearance. With FAU joining the American Conference, he may be inclined to stay with the Owls. However, it is possible he gets an interview with a power six school, such as Cal or Texas Tech.