Alabama has expressed interest in Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino, sources with knowledge of the situation told the Star Tribune.
Crimson Tide athletic director Bill Battle fired coach Anthony Grant on March 15 after six seasons with the program. According to multiple reports, Alabama is pursuing Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall as its first choice. Those reports say Battle traveled to Wichita, Kan., on Monday to meet with Marshall, but no announcement has been made.
Pitino is heading into the third year of a six-year contract that pays him $1.2 million annually, and he has a buyout of $1.5 million.
Previously, the 32-year-old Pitino worked as an assistant at Louisville — under his father, Rick Pitino — and Florida before taking his first head coaching job at Florida International for the 2012-13 season. After he was hired by the Gophers the following April, they won an NIT championship in his first year before falling short of both the NCAA tournament and NIT this season.
The Gophers started 0-5 in Big Ten play after a promising run in the nonconference portion of the schedule. Nine two-possession losses crushed the season’s high hopes.
This isn’t the first time Pitino, who is 43-28 overall and 14-22 in the Big Ten in two seasons with the Gophers, has been linked to job openings. Last year, there were reports that the coach was considered by Tennessee in its search.
This year, his name has been thrown out in connection with openings, now filled, at St. John’s and once again at Tennessee. St. John’s hired its former star Chris Mullin to replace Steve Lavin, and Tennessee fired Donnie Tyndall after one season and replaced him with Rick Barnes, who was just fired from Texas.