In his 10 years with the Iona Gaels, head coach Tim Cluess became one of the most heralded and recognizable faces in the mid-major basketball world. That’s largely due to the unprecedented heights his teams reached year after year, including earning bids to the past four NCAA Tournaments.
Today, after posting a 199-106 record in New Rochelle, Cluess announced he was resigning from his position as head coach, “so that he may focus on making a full recovery from his recent health concerns, and serve in an advisory role.”
In a statement released by the school, Cluess noted the health problems he faced this year that sidelined him for the entirety of the 2019-20 season:
“I want to sincerely thank the Iona College community and administration for the opportunity to be a part of Gael Nation for the past ten years,” said Cluess. “I appreciate the concern and care that the Iona Community, in particular Dr. Carey, has demonstrated for me and my family over the past few months as I have been dealing with a complicated health issue that kept me from coaching.”
In his decade with Iona, Cluess managed to consistently reach feats that are rare for any mid-major program to achieve once, let alone sustain. As the school was quick to point out, Cluess finishes his career with the most all-time MAAC Tournament wins of any head coach, and only Gonzaga and New Mexico State won more conference titles in the past eight years than the Gaels.
Now, Iona must turn to replacing an icon, and Adam Zagoria already has sources indicating that both Rick Pitino and Jared Grasso are being considered:
Two candidates in the mix are Rick Pitino And Jared Grasso, per sources https://t.co/DsurFrARFK— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 13, 2020
While Grasso, the current head coach of the Bryant Bulldogs, is perhaps the likelier pick at this point due to his eight-year stint as an assistant at Iona under Cluess, it’s always interesting to see Pitino’s name get floated in these coaching searches.
After being fired by the Louisville Cardinals in 2017, Pitino has spent the past two seasons coaching Panathinaikos, a member of the Greek Basket League. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him attempt to return to the American college game, but this seems like more of a pie-in-the-sky rumor than anything.