Men's basketball: The Rick Pitino era at Iona expected to begin Nov. 25 at Fordham

Josh Thomson
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

After some scrambling in recent weeks, there appears to be a plan in place for Rick Pitino's debut as Iona men's basketball coach.

Pitino and the Gaels will reportedly open their season Nov. 25 in the Bronx against Fordham. It will be one of at least five non-conference games scheduled prior to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, which begins on Dec. 8.

Although the deal between the schools has not been announced, multiple reports Friday morning said Iona will travel to Fordham for its opener.

Rick Pitino gestures to his Panathinaikos team during a January 2019 game in Greece.

SEE: Rick Pitino watches U.S. Open from Winged Foot backyard

A spokesman for the college did confirm that the Gaels are scheduled to play three games at Mohegan Sun on Nov. 30-Dec. 2. The multiple-team event (MTE) will be a four-team round-robin, although the three others have yet to be finalized.

Iona College head men's basketball coach Rick Pitino (M) watches from a gallery in his back yard on the 3rd green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club - West.

Iona will also play a fifth non-conference game in the days after the Mohegan Sun event against an opportunity to be determined.

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By participating in an MTE, the Gaels are eligible to play a maximum of 27 games by NCAA rules. With 20 MAAC games scheduled, they could technically add two non-conference games in addition to the five already planned.

Pitino, a Hall-of-Fame coach who won national championships at Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013), was hired in March to replace Tim Cluess, who resigned for health reasons after missing the entire 2019-20 season. He hasn't coached a college basketball game since 2017 when he was fired for cause by Louisville, although it was later reclassified as a resignation. The school had its national title vacated by the NCAA the following year.

Pitino spent the last two seasons coaching Panathinaikos, a pro team in Greece, to back-to-back league titles.

Josh Thomson is the Local Sports Editor for The Journal News and Poughkeepsie Journal. He can be reached by e-mail at, on Twitter at @lohudinsider, and on Instagram at @lohudinsider.

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