New Mexico hires Pitino, as Minnesota aims higher once again


Richard Pitino was hired on Tuesday as New Mexico’s head coach, hours after Minnesota finalized his firing following eight seasons with the Gophers.

Lobos athletic director Eddie Nuñez picked the 38-year-old Pitino to be the 22nd head coach in the history of their program. He’s replacing Paul Weir, who went 58-63 in four seasons.

New Mexico last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014, in head coach Craig Neal’s first year. The Lobos, playing in the Mountain West Conference, went three times in six seasons under Neal’s predecessor, Steve Alford.

Pitino took Minnesota to the NCAA Tournament twice. Over his eight years in the rugged Big Ten, the Gophers were 54-96 in conference play with only three regular season finishes higher than 10th place. The son of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, who’s back in the NCAA Tournament this year with Iona, Richard Pitino had one season of prior experience as a head coach at Florida International when he was hired at Minnesota.

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