Rick Pitino Says He Tested Positive for COVID-19 on January 16

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IJanuary 27, 2021

File-This Jan. 4, 2019, file photo shows Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino looking on during a Euroleague basketball match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in Piraeus near Athens. Former Louisville basketball coach Pitino has reached a settlement with Adidas, the Hall of Fame coach and the global sportswear company said in a joint statement Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)
Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino said Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 days after he received the first of two doses of the vaccine for the virus.

In an appearance on The Michael Kay Show, Pitino said he thinks he picked up the virus from his players ahead of his positive test on Jan. 16 (h/t Adam Zagoria of the New York Times). A university spokesperson told Josh Thomson of the Rockland/Westchester Journal News that nine of the team's 17 players, two coaches and two managers have tested positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 4.

Speaking to reporters, the Iona College coach said he was no longer quarantining and "didn't have the severe symptoms that many people have had." He later told the New York Times that he has tested negative "several times."

The 68-year-old said he is still planning to get the second dose of the vaccine.

The virus has heavily impacted Iona during Pitino's first season. According to Zagoria, the program has been suspended three different times and hasn't played since Dec. 23. Its next game is scheduled for Feb. 3, which would amount to a 42-day separation between games.

Pitino was among coaches that were in favor of delaying the season amid the pandemic, and he promoted the postponement of the NCAA tournament to May.

Rick Pitino @RealPitino

I’ll say it again, to anyone who will listen, push the season back to March, and then have May Madness. Give the Vaccine a chance. In the best interest of all involved!

"I'm a little bit of a political animal," he said, via Zagoria. "I follow the science of it all, and that's why I tried to move it back to May Madness for the health of everybody involved."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski questioned the NCAA's decision to play on through the pandemic. While he noted the financial necessity to play an NCAA tournament a year after losing $800 million because of the cancellation of the 2020 event, he urged the governing body to reconsider.

"I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we're at," he said last month.

The Duke women's basketball team decided on Dec. 25 to cancel its season because of concerns about the virus.

The entirety of this year's men's basketball tournament will be held at six venues in and around Indianapolis in what president Mark Emmert said is an effort "to provide a healthy, safe environment" amid a "pandemic (that) is still very much alive."