Rick Pitino is coming off of a championship in Greece, after his ouster at Louisville following the program’s connection to the FBI probe into college basketball. Pitino skated through a few scandals at Louisville, but could not survive that most recent one.
Thus far, the NCAA hasn’t made any decisions about Louisville or Pitino specifically. We’ve seen a few individual players, like Kansas center Silvio De Sousa, get deemed ineligible from their appearance in the FBI’s investigation.
It seems unlikely that a team will take a shot on Pitino, given the possibility that he is slapped with major NCAA sanctions at some point. That hasn’t stopped some rumors from proliferating.
UCLA has been the subject of most of them. The Bruins are one of the most storied programs in the country, and fired Steve Alford earlier in the year.
Now, some rumors have popped up about a smaller program, but one with a strong history of its own: UNLV.
Rick Pitino has shot down any notion that he would take over the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, due to his relationship with the program’s current coach.
Marvin Menzies coached under Pitino from 2005-2007 at Louisville. From there, he took over at New Mexico State.
He went 198-111 from 2007-2016, reaching the NCAA Tournament five times, including four appearances in a row from 2012-2015. He parlayed that into the UNLV job.
The through three seasons, the Rebels are yet to make the Tournament, but Menzies hasn’t been a disaster by any means. He’s 46-45 overall, winning 20 games last year, and sits at 15-11 this year after a rough first season.
Pitino is close with Menzies, and says that is a large reason why he’d never take the UNLV job. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“I root for UNLV every game,” Pitino, who coached Panathinaikos to the Greek Cup Championship on Sunday, told the Review-Journal on Friday. “I have been a big fan since the Tark days. But now I root for them every game because of Marvin Menzies, a younger brother to me. I, nor my agent, haven’t had any discussions with UNLV about coaching there. I will continue to root for my ex-assistant coach every game. Go, Marvin.”
It would be a bold step for a program to go after Pitino from their side. I’d imagine that he would consider most college programs if they were interested, but the Runnin’ Rebels appear to be off the table, should Menzies not make it to a fourth season.