NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Kevin Willard was hired Tuesday as the
basketball coach at Iona, which hopes the former Rick Pitino
assistant can revive a team that began the season 0-22 and finished
with the worst record in the program's 62-year history.
Willard spent the past six seasons at Louisville as an assistant
and is a head coach for the first time. He succeeds Jeff Ruland,
who was bought out of the final two years of his contract.
"Last year doesn't concern me," Willard said at a campus news
conference. "I know they went through a hard time, but this is a
The Gaels, often starting five freshmen and hampered by
injuries, went 2-28 season last year.
Iona president James Liguori offered Willard the job last week.
Pitino, the Louisville coach, announced the hiring Friday from the
"[Kevin] will understand our mission," Liguori said. "He will
help us to be competitive and he will help us to graduate every
Before working at Louisville, Willard spent four years as a
coaching associate/scout under Pitino with the Boston Celtics.
Ruland, a former Iona star and two-time NBA All-Star, coached
the Gaels for nine seasons. His teams won three Metro Atlantic
Athletic Conference titles and made three NCAA tournament