It’s official. The Puerto Rican Basketball Federation (PRBF) and Rick Pitino agreed to end the contract that gave Louisville’s head coach the technical and training management of the island’s national team for the upcoming FIBA-Americas Olympic qualifying tournament to be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina during the months of August and September.
The NCAA’s refusal to allow the Louisville Cardinals to train in Puerto Rico this summer was seen as an obstacle by both Pitino and the PRBF. The original agreement between these two parts stated that Pitino was not going to earn a salary for coaching the Puerto Rican national team. Under this contract, the PRBF would have only provided the funding to cover the coach’s traveling costs. In exchange for his “free” services, Rick Pitino’s college team was expected and authorized (by the PRBF) to train in Puerto Rico, and participate in scrimmage games against the island’s national basketball representation.
In the end, the NCAA did not approve this summer training camp for the Cardinals, and the PRBF-Pitino agreement was canceled.
These are good news for the Puerto Rican national team. Now, the PRBF will have the opportunity to hire a full-time coach who can start training early this summer without the distractions and demands that result from coaching a college franchise. In addition to this possibility, the new technical manager can also continue on the position after the FIBA-Americas Cup, prepare young talent for the 2011 Pan-American Games and be part of a long-term restructuring project for the benefit of all basketball programs on the island of Puerto Rico.