SPORTS

Rick Pitino Won't Coach Puerto Rico National Team

FILE - This Dec. 18, 2008, file photo shows Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, center, assistant coach Richard Pitino, left, and equipment manager Tom Sypher, right, during an NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi.  Richard Pitino is back coaching alongside his father Rick at Louisville. The school announced Tuesday, April 26, 2011,  that Richard Pitino and former New Mexico assistant Wyking Jones have joined the Cardinals' revamped coaching staff.(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

FILE - This Dec. 18, 2008, file photo shows Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, center, assistant coach Richard Pitino, left, and equipment manager Tom Sypher, right, during an NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi. Richard Pitino is back coaching alongside his father Rick at Louisville. The school announced Tuesday, April 26, 2011, that Richard Pitino and former New Mexico assistant Wyking Jones have joined the Cardinals' revamped coaching staff.(AP Photo/Al Behrman)  (AP2008)

After just a few months, the Puerto Rico national team needs a new coach.

That's because Rick Pitino, the Louisville Cardinals coach who had agreed to coach the Caribbean island's basketball in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament, is backing out of the job. Pitino cited scheduling conflicts for his abrupt decision.

"I was so looking forward to coaching the Puerto Rico national team, but too many conflicts arose," Pitino said. "It is a great disappointment that we cannot take on the challenge to help them qualify for the Olympics."

In December, Pitino had agreed to coach the team this summer. He had even hoped to have his Louisville team play the Puerto Rican national team as part of a foreign trip.

The NCAA, incidentally, shot down the idea because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States and is not considered a foreign country under the association's rules. In the end, an acceptable site for the foreign trip where both teams could visit simultaneously could not be arranged. 

The addition of a second tournament also conflicted with his duties at Louisville.

Pitino had planned to coach the Puerto Rico in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship basketball tournament in late August. Puerto Rico must finish among the top two teams to advance to the 2012 Olympics in London.

Pitino's announcement came a day after Kentucky coach John Calipari said he was considering an offer to coach the Dominican Republic national team in the same tournament.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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