After just five months in charge, Rick Pitino has left his post as coach of the Puerto Rico national side.
The Puerto Rican Basketball Federation (FBPR) announced late Tuesday that Louisville coach Rick Pitino will not lead their national team at the FIBA Americas Championship this summer due to complications with NCAA rules.
Pitino and Puerto Rico had reached an agreement on a deal before Christmas for the American to lead the national team and try to get them to the London Olympics, but Pitino was not allowed to coach his Cardinals in the Caribbean country this summer as it would be a violation of NCAA rules.
He is not allowed to coach the team in another US state, or territory.
Puerto Rico considered the idea of holding a training camp with Pitino and Louisville in the Bahamas but that was not deemed feasible by one of the two parties.
“The important thing is that from a professional level, he (Pitino) understood it,” FBPR president Carlos Beltran said.
“Now the next stage is to activate the negotiations we had before and appoint someone before May 15.
“It’s a bit frustrating, the situation, but when one works with a manager of this caliber, you have to be ready for these type of situations. But we are working to bring the best.
“Really we arrived to this point due to the negative of the NCAA of not allowing Louisville against Puerto Rico.”
Two of Puerto Rico’s most important players, Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Barea and Boston Celtics playmaker Carlos Arroyo, had spoken enthusiastically about Pitino’s arrival as their national team coach and were looking forward to working with him in the off-season.
Now it’s back to the drawing board for a team that is hoping to at least have a top-five finish in Mar del Plata in order to book a spot at next year’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
John Hobbs for Talkbasket.net