MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The University of Minnesota announced Wednesday it has agreed to a one-year contract extension with men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino.
Pitino is now under contract through the 2021-22 season, and the extension is pending approval from the school’s Board of Regents. Pitino led the Gophers to the biggest single-season turnaround in program history last season. Two years ago, Minnesota finished a dismal 8-23 and had its season marred by issues away from basketball. Last year, the Gophers finished 24-10 overall and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance under Pitino.
[graphiq id=”llXB6Aumf0V” title=”Richard Pitino” width=”600″ height=”562″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/llXB6Aumf0V” ]
Minnesota finished fourth in the Big Ten last year with an 11-7 mark after winning just two league games two seasons ago. They lost to Middle Tennessee State in the opening round of the Big Dance, but expectations are high for next season. Minnesota was a No. 5 seed for the Big Dance, their best in 35 years.
The Gophers only lose one player who saw significant minutes last year in Akeem Springs and bring back most of their roster. Darin Haugh also graduates and Ahmad Gilbert transferred, but they’ll return starters Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffee, Reggie Lynch and Jordan Murphy. The Gophers also bring in point guard recruit Isaiah Washington and guard Jamir Harris, and will get Davonte Fitzgerald back from a knee injury. With the returners and the incoming freshman, the Gophers are expected to start the 2017-18 season ranked in the top 25.
Pitino was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year after the season and made more than $2 million after incentives for this season’s success. He’s 75-61 in four seasons with the Gophers.
The extension assures Pitino will be in Minnesota long-term while the school builds new athletic facilities and allows him to pursue top recruits.