Rick Pitino, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who was fired as Louisville’s head coach last year amid allegations that he was aware of illicit payments to a prospect that were revealed by federal prosecutors, has agreed to be the new head coach of one of Greece’s top teams.
The team, Panathinaikos, is based in Athens. The agreement, first reported by ESPN, was confirmed by Drew Rosenhaus, Pitino’s agent.
Pitino, 66, is known as one of the most accomplished college basketball coaches of his generation, widely regarded for his tactics and motivation. In the late 1980s, he revived the scandal-ridden Kentucky program, winning a national championship in 1996 and laying the groundwork for another two years later.
Starting in 2001, he similarly rejuvenated Louisville’s program, winning the Cardinals’ third national title in 2013, though the N.C.A.A. subsequently vacated it because of recruiting violations. Earlier, in 1988, he took Providence to its only Final Four.
He remains the only coach to reach the Final Four at three different programs and the only one to win national titles at two, although the second was the vacated Louisville title.
Stints in the N.B.A., with the Boston Celtics and the Knicks, were less successful.
But he was brought low at Louisville by repeated scandal, including an extramarital affair with the future wife of a staffer and the scandal that led to vacated wins, in which a former staffer repeatedly paid for strippers and prostitutes to entertain recruits and players in on-campus housing. In the latter case, N.C.A.A. adjudicators accepted Pitino’s insistence that he had been unaware of the situation but insisted that association rules dictated that he keep closer watch over his program.
What finally ended his tenure at Louisville, however, were the revelations about corruption in college sports recruiting unveiled by federal prosecutors in September 2017. One of three complaints centered on a Louisville recruit whose family, prosecutors said, was to have been funneled $100,000 from Adidas, which is Louisville’s apparel sponsor.
At a trial earlier this year, two former Adidas employees and an aspiring agent were convicted on fraud charges, and the recruit’s father testified that Pitino’s former associate head coach gave him a few thousand dollars in cash.
Louisville and Pitino are litigating a dispute over tens of millions of dollars that Pitino says he is owed under his contract, which ran through 2026. Louisville insists it does not owe him anything because it justifiably fired him for cause.
Panathinaikos is a basketball power in Europe, having won the continent’s major championship, the Euroleague, six times, most recently in 2011.
This season, though the team is undefeated in the Greek league, the more important Euroleague has been a disappointment, with the team sitting in 10th place at 6-7, out of the eight playoff spots.
The team includes several American players, including Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State and James Gist of Maryland, both N.B.A. second round picks, and Keith Langford of Kansas, who is arguably the team’s star.
The most notable name on the team however is Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the 26-year-old older brother of Giannis, the Milwaukee Bucks star. Thanasis appeared in two games for the Knicks in 2015-16.