Richard Pitino to succeed Tubby Smith, named Minnesota’s new basketball coach

Florida International Golden Panthers head coach Richard Pitino calls out instructions during the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center. (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)

Florida International Golden Panthers head coach Richard Pitino calls out instructions during the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center. (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)

An incredibly big March for the Pitino family just got a lot bigger. With father Rick getting his Louisville Cardinals ready for a second consecutive trip to the Final Four, son Richard was making some moves of his own.

On Wednesday, the former Florida International coach and Louisville assistant was named the new head basketball coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, according to CBS Sports.

Pitino spent one season with the FIU Golden Panthers, winning 18 games in the program’s final season in the Sun Belt before it moves to Conference USA in the fall. He is seen as one of the best young minds in the game and, obviously, the last name doesn’t hurt.

He will be taking over for Tubby Smith, who was fired despite beating UCLA in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. It was Minny’s first Tournament win under Smith, but the former Kentucky head man had led the Gophers to at least 20 wins in five of his six seasons at the helm.

Current Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague was the man who hired on Shaka Smart at VCU. Smart was reportedly Teague’s first choice to head up to the Twin Cities, but Smart decided to stay put at Virginia Commonwealth. From there, Teague interviewed Pitino, as well as Towson coach Pat Skerry.