Talk grows that this season will be Pitino's last at Gophers

A report says Pitino's tenure could be "down to his final games."
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Richard Pitino

As the Minnesota Golden Gopher men's basketball team has lost eight of their past 10 games, speculation continues to grow that the team could move on from head coach Rick Pitino.

A report from the Star Tribune's Marcus Fuller says that Pitino's tenure could be "down to its final games," after back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Northwestern. 

Both teams are at the bottom of the Big Ten standings and dropped the Gophers to 13-12 on the season and 6-12 in the Big Ten.

The report also states that the scene in the Gophers' locker room after the Feb. 27 loss to Nebraska was "emotional" and Pitino jumped into the postgame media call "a little later than usual."

"I just told them, 'Enjoy the process. Enjoy being in college,'" Pitino said of his postgame locker room speech. "It's a weird college experience, obviously, but embrace it, love it. Love the time you have with your teammates. Love playing basketball."

The report echoes a tweet over the weekend from WCCO's Henry Lake that sources have told him Pitino, who has a 140-120 record in eight seasons at Minnesota, will coach through the end of this season, but will not return for the 2021-22 season.

While neither Pitino or U of M athletic director Mark Coyle commented on either report, Coyle answered some questions on the subject during a Tuesday morning interview with WCCO radio's Dave Lee on Tuesday morning.

 "I don't talk about our coaches until the seasons are over," Coyle said. "And you have to look at the entire body of work."

The entire body of work includes four wins over Quad 1 opponents this season including Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue.

While Pitino has amassed a 140-120 overall record during his eight seasons at Minnesota but has reached the NCAA tournament twice and will wrap up their seventh losing season in the Big Ten this weekend.

Per Fuller's report, Pitino has a $1.75 million buyout from the university if fired before Apr. 30. If he is kept past that date, he would earn a $2.5 million salary as well as a $400,000 retention bonus for next season.

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