Richard Pitino returning for 8th season with Gophers

Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino thanks the crowd at Williams Arena after Minnesota beat Nebraska 107-75 on Senior Day. ((credit: University of Minnesota))

Despite questions about his job security near the end of the season, Richard Pitino will reportedly be back for the 2020-21 season with Minnesota.

Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle addressed Pitino's status in a statement on Friday.

"Coach Pitino and I met today. Richard understands my high expectations for our program, which is to compete at a championship level," Coyle said.

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball coach will return next season. Pitino and the Gophers beat Northwestern 74-57 Wednesday night in the Big Ten Tournament, then the league canceled the remainder of the tournament on Thursday due to Coronavirus concerns across the country. The Gophers were set to face Iowa on Thursday, but their season instead finished with a 15-16 record.

Pitino and the Gophers had reached the NCAA Tournament two out of the last three years, with Minnesota beating Louisville in the first round last year. But the Gophers finished 8-12 in Big Ten play this year, losing eight games in the league by eight points or less, including second half leads at Williams Arena to Maryland and Iowa.

Pitino has a 128-107 record in seven seasons, including a 48-82 mark in Big Ten play. He’ll lose Michael Hurt, Brady Rudrud and Alihan Demir to graduation. The status of sophomore Daniel Oturu is also in question, as he’s expected to enter the NBA Draft process and could ultimately stay in.