Florida coach Billy Donovan confirmed Tuesday that Pitino, an assistant at Louisville from 2007-09, is departing his coaching staff to accept a position at Louisville. In the process, Donovan stirred up a hornet's nest in Louisville with this statement:
"Richard's got an opportunity right now to go back to Louisville as the associate head coach with the opportunity to possibly be the coach-in-waiting there….that's been something that has been discussed with him," Donovan said. "I think with Richard having a baby here any week…the opportunity for him to go back home and be with his family was something that was very, very important to him. Richard's situation for him to be the associate head coach with the possibility of being the head coach at Louisville is an incredible opportunity."
A 2005 Providence graduate, Pitino served as an assistant at Louisville for two years, helping the Cardinals advance to consecutive NCAA Elite Eight appearances in 2008 and 2009. Louisville went 58-15 during his two years on staff.
Regarded as one of the top up-and-coming assistants in the nation, Pitino has earned a reputation as a tireless recruiter and detail-oriented scout. During his first season at Florida, Pitino was credited for developing scouting reports in key SEC wins against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Georgia.
Prior to his first stint at Louisville, Pitino, 28, spent two years on Ron Everhart's staff at Northeastern (2005-06) and Duquesne (2006-07).
During his two seasons at Florida, the Gators made the NCAA Tournament twice, advancing to the Elite Eight this season before losing to Butler in overtime.
"He did a great job [here]," Donovan said. "I feel sad that his stay was only two years. I'm excited for him that he is going to be reunited with his family and his dad."