Gophers part ways with Richard Pitino

Pitino is out after eight seasons in Minnesota.
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Richard Pitino

University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle announced on Monday night that the university has decided to part ways with men's basketball head coach Richard Pitino.

"I recently met with Richard and told him that we were moving in a different direction," Coyle said in a statement. "Richard is a tremendous person and coach, and I want to thank him, Jill and their family for their commitment to Minnesota. We wish them well in their next endeavor."

Pitino coached eight seasons with the Gophers compiling a 141-123 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances. While his overall record was solid, Minnesota posted a losing record in Big Ten conference play in seven of the past eight seasons including a 6-14 record this season.

Although the Gophers scored three victories over top-10 teams, they lost 11 of their final 14 games including Thursday's Big Ten Tournament matchup with Ohio State.

"Decisions like this are never easy, but after evaluating this season and the previous eight years of our program under Richard, it is clear to me that new leadership is needed," Coyle added. 

"We have one of the best practice facilities in the nation, a historic competition venue and a state that produces top-caliber talent. This is an extremely attractive job, and we will immediately start a nationwide search for our next head coach." 

The next step for the Gophers will depend on what happens with Pitino's future. Pitino is a frontrunner for the New Mexico head coaching job. If he gets the job, the university will be off the hook for a $1.75 buyout in Pitino's contract.

That could lead the way to Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, whose father coached the Gophers from 1971-75. Musselman led the Razorbacks to a 22-6 record in his first season with the team but also carries a $5 million buyout. 

That number decreases to $1.5 million on May 1, but it's unlikely the two sides would be willing to wait on a decision.

The Gophers could also tap into their linage with San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher, whose father Jim followed Musselman from 1975-86. Dutcher led the Aztecs to a 23-4 record this season and has a $1 million buyout if takes the head coaching position at Minnesota.

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