Mike Francesa: Rick Pitino-St. John’s Marriage Faces Major Obstacles

By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York
By WFAN.com

Chris Mullin is out at St. John’s after tendering his resignation on Tuesday.

In a news release, athletic director Mike Cragg thanked Mullin for his four years coaching at his alma mater. Mullin had led the Red Storm to a 21-13 record and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.

St. John’s now will undertake a search to find its next head coach. One caller who phoned in to “Mike’s On” on Wednesday thought the school should look toward hiring Rick Pitino for the job. Mike Frances thought that was an unlikely scenario.

“You’re asking the president of that school to have a conversation with the NCAA, and with the FBI about whether or not he is hireable,” said Francesa. “There’s no candidate out there who comes close to Rick Pitino as a candidate, if he is allowed to be hired. And we don’t know if he is … and then there’s other issues, like who is paying Rick Pitino? Rick Pitino doesn’t get paid a couple of bucks. He gets paid a ton of money.”

Pitino was the head coach at Louisville from 2001 until 2017. He was fired after federal authorities put the school under investigation for a “pay for play” recruiting scandal.

In December 2018, Greek basketball team Panathinaikos B.C. appointed Pitino as its head coach through the end of the season. He led Panathinaikos to a Greek Basketball Cup title a couple months later.

The New York Post reported that Pitino had reached out to St. John’s expressing interest in the job.

Francesa pointed out that even if Pitino is deemed to be OK to take another college coaching position, that St. John’s probably would not have a chance at him.

“I don’t know if Rick Pitino is hireable or not. ... If he was going to be in the mix this year for a college job, then I think he would have been in the mix at UCLA, which has the wherewithal to hire Rick Pitino a lot quicker than St. John’s does," Francesa said. 

Even if St. John's doesn't work out, Francesa is confident that Pitino will soon be coaching in college basketball once again.

"There's not a chance in the world he's not coaching again, because I know him I know what he is; he's a coach," Francesa said. "He went and coached in Greece, and he's a great coach. He is as good a coach as there is. Nobody is better than Pitino. ... But right now I don't know that he's hireable." 

Click the audio player above to listen to Mike Francesa's full thoughts on the situation with St. John's and Rick Pitino.