What a difference a year can make.
At the end of last year’s college basketball season, some fans wondered whether Gophers head coach Richard Pitino should be welcomed back for another season on the bench. Then his squad stormed back this year, rattled off the best season since Pitino took over, and earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
On the heels of that turnaround — and with the immediate future looking bright — the Gophers have extended Pitino’s contract for an additional season. It now runs through the 2021-22 season.
That proposed extension doesn’t become official until the Board of Regents votes on it in meetings at the end of the month.
Pitino was hired by former Minnesota AD Norwood Teague, who resigned amid a sexual harrassment scandal. Mark Coyle replaced Teague last summer, and at the end of his first year, has decided to extend Pitino’s contract.
“Since I came back to Minnesota as the AD last May, I have been impressed with Coach Pitino and his management of our men’s basketball program,” Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle said in a statement released by the team Wednesday. “I’ve seen accountability, commitment and focus from every student-athlete and member of the men’s basketball staff, led by Coach Pitino. The team’s success on the court this year generated a lot of excitement on campus and around the state. I’m looking forward to much more of that with Coach Pitino leading our program.”