Rich Pitino, unveiled Friday morning as Minnesota’s new men’s basketball coach, had a falsehood in his coaching biography at his past four stops: as an assistant coach at Duquesne, Florida and Louisville, and for one season as the head coach at Florida International.
Pitino's biography at Florida International stated: "Pitino served as an administrative assistant under Tom Herrion at the College of Charleston during the Cougars' 18-10 season in 2004-05.’’
That same information was included in the bios dating to his time at Duquesne in 2006-07.
Scott Kelly sent e-mails to Twin Cities media members earlier this week and posted a comment at gophersports.com pointing out this falsehood in Pitino's bios. The e-mail Kelly sent to me read in part:
“Richard Pitino was NOT the Administrative Assistant at the College of Charleston from 2004-2005 because I WAS. Our staff that year was Tom Herrion as the head coach. Then we had Pat Skerry (current Towson head coach), Sean Ryan (now in the Boston area), and Lamont Franklin as assistants. Troy Wheless was the DBO [director of basketball operations]. Then there was me.’’
Kelly’s e-mail also suggested that Pitino was hired in August or September 2005 and “left a week or so later.’’
Pitino’s tenure at the College of Charleston was closer to two months. It is a fact that he came to the school several weeks after the conclusion of the 2004-05 season that his bios at four schools have claimed he was part of.
In October 2005, after he had left Charleston to work at Northeastern, Pitino was quoted as saying: “It was short, but I learned the most in two months that I could have learned in any program. Coach Herron is one of those guys who is great to work for. He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever been around. He gives his assistant a lot of respect and responsibility, and I took advantage of it.’’
On Thursday, the Star Tribune brought this question about Pitino’s coaching biography to a University of Minnesota employee. The U of M intermediary contacted Pitino, who told him: “That shouldn’t be in there’’ _ meaning, the reference to his attachment to the winning 2004-05 College of Charleston team that had been in Pitino’s four previous bios.
Gopher fans will ask: “What’s the big deal about an administrative assistant job at the infancy of Pitino’s coaching career?’’
Answer: It’s not a big deal, at all.
Which leaves the question as to why Pitino allowed it to remain in his official biography at four schools?
Kelly’s original post on the first announcement of Pitino's hiring still appeared on gophersports.com on Friday morning, at the same time the Pitino news conference/pep fest was starting at Williams Arena. The post identified him as Scott Christopher Kelly, associate professor of economics/MBA adviser at South University, and read:
“Congratulations on hiring a coach who has lied on his resume for the past 8 years since he took the job at Duquesne, a la George O'Leary at Notre Dame football back in 2001. The reason I know is that he is literally claiming a job that I DID and he was nowhere around this section of the United States. Unfortunately no one has fact-checked his resume and took it as the gospel truth because of his dad's name (kind of like happened with O'Leary).
“I assume your university also failed to adequately fact check since he got this far on his dad's name. I attempted to email the athletic department with no response. You guys can now deal with the embarrassment and lies (a la George O'Leary) that come out in other ways.’’
One more note: I sent an e-mail to Tom Herrion, now coaching at Marshall University, that read, "I'm told that, contary to Rich Pitino's bio that has been printed at all of his stops, he did not serve as the adminstrative ass't for you during the successful 2004-05 season at College of Charleston ... Could you give me the facts on Pitino's stay w/ you at College of Charleston?''
I received this response from Herrion on Friday morning: "Richard was my Director of basketball in an official capacity for a few months before he left for a coaching position @ Northeastern. There should be no doubt about Richard's membership on my staff albeit for a short period of time.''
Which means, Pitino was at the College of Charleston, just not when his coaching bio from 2006 through 2013 said he was.