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Pitino Leaves FIU for Minnesota

Well, that didn’t last long.

One year after taking his first head coaching job in Miami, Richard Pitino is headed to the Big Ten.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport

Minnesota announced yesterday an agreement in principle with Pitino, who led Florida International to a surprising 18-14 record and a berth in the Sun Belt title game.

He replaces Tubby Smith, who was fired after Minnesota was eliminated in the NCAA tournament.

Pitino, 30, will owe FIU one year’s salary, or $250,000 for leaving at this point in his contract.  He was hired to replace Isiah Thomas, who was fired after last season.  Despite returning six players, some of them non-scholarship and with little time to recruit, the Panthers had their first winning season in 13 years.

Pitino used his father’s trademark trapping defense to force turnovers, leading to easy baskets.  One of his recruits, Tymell Murphy, was a first team All-Sun Belt selection.

FIU joins Conference USA next season.

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