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Rick Pitino's next basketball gig: Head coach of this national team

Thomas Barrabi

College basketball legend Rick Pitino said Friday he has accepted a job as head coach of the Greek national team ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as he looks to move past the recruiting scandal that led to his ouster at the University of Louisville in 2017.

“Really honored to be coaching the Greek National team,” Pitino wrote on Twitter. “Have a lot of work and preparation ahead but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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The Greek basketball federation said it would formally present Pitino as the team’s next head coach on Monday, along with further details on the agreement. Pitino said he will begin coaching the team ahead of the qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympics in June.

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Most recently, Pitino served as head coach of Greek pro club Panathinaikos B.C., leading the franchise to victory at the Greek Cup in his only season at the helm. The 67-year-old declined an offer to return to the team last June in order to pursue a coaching or front office position in the NBA, ESPN reported at the time.

The Greek national team includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star and reigning NBA most valuable player.

A member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Pitino was fired as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals after the school was named in court documents related to a federal corruption probe into illegal recruiting practices in college basketball. The documents noted an instance in which a five-star high school recruit purportedly received $100,000 from an Adidas executive before committing to play at Louisville, an Adidas-sponsored school.

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Pitino has denied wrongdoing and filed suit against the University of Louisville Athletic Association to recoup nearly $40 million remaining on his contract. The two sides later reached a settlement that did not include a financial payout.

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