Mike Repole keen to help St. John’s if he hires Rick Pitino

ALBANY — Mike Repole is eager to return to St. John’s as a benefactor of the basketball program if the Queens school can close on Rick Pitino.

The billionaire alumnus is firmly behind the potential hire and ready to get involved, he told The Post in an exclusive interview.

With the advent of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), its deep pockets would certainly benefit the Red Storms, who are getting involved in the NIL space with a collective, Storm Marketing.

“As a proud and passionate alumnus of St. John’s, I’ve waited over 15 years for St. John’s to hire a Hall of Fame trainer like Rick Pitino,” said Repole, co-founder of Vitamin Water. , business magnate and native of Queens. Saturday afternoon as St. John’s continued their pursuit of Iona’s coach Pitino. “He’s been the type of coach the University has deserved since the day Louie Carnesecca retired.

Iona did not return to the area until Saturday afternoon after losing their NCAA Tournament opener to Connecticut at MVP Arena in Albany.

Pitino was scheduled to meet the school brass sometime this weekend.

Owner Mike Repole, left, congratulates trainer Todd Pletcher after Forte’s victory with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Breeders’ Cup juvenile race.

The 70-year-old coach said he doesn’t know St. John’s enough and would like to see it before making a decision on his future.

A source close to Pitino told the Post that he does not want to leave his Mamaroneck, NY home at Winged Foot Golf Club, suggesting he will take the St. John’s job or stay in Iona. .

Another source said St. John’s president Reverend Brian Shanley, who nearly hired Pitino 12 years ago when he was president of Providence, was “relentless” in his pursuit.

Repole, 54, has supported Fordham financially in recent years but has maintained a relationship with St. John’s sporting director Mike Cragg, he said.

Repole and Pitino are friends through their interest in horse racing – Repole won the Belmont Stakes last June and owns Repole Stables – and have known each other for more than 15 years.

Both Pitino and Cragg are aware of Repole’s intentions, sources say.

“If St. John’s offers the job to Rick Pitino and Rick Pitino decides to take the job, I would definitely be involved in both helping the basketball team financially and helping Rick with NIL,” Repole said.

“In trying to be a successful entrepreneur, there are certain people in different fields of business or sports, you admire what they do. Whether it’s (the late) Kobe Bryant in basketball or Tom Brady in football or Rick Pitino as a coach These are the people I aspire to work with in my business.

Repole, a former recall, was a vocal critic of St. John’s latest coaching search in 2019.

Iona coach Rick Pitino is the first choice to take over at St. John’s.
Getty Images

He went on WFAN and tore up former president Bobby Gempesaw and the board for what he considered Cragg’s top pick, Bobby Hurley, and for not hiring his brother Dan, now a Connecticut coach. , during the previous search in 2015. .

The school opted for Chris Mullin in 2015 and Mike Anderson in 2019, neither of which worked out.

“I think everything I said in that rant was accurate,” said Repole, who now resides in Florida. “That’s in the past, and just the fact that we’re looking for a coach like Rick Pitino tells me that the new administration is very different from the one I was talking about. I don’t have a relationship with Father Shanley, but everyone that I meet and who know him have nothing but incredibly positive things to say about him.

When asked if he would buy season tickets if Pitino actually took over at St. John’s, Repole laughed.

“With all the help I plan to give to the basketball program,” he joked, “hopefully I can get a few free spots.”

New York Post

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