Rick Pitino offers thoughts on transfer and NIL situations around NCAA sports

Rick Pitino did not hold anything back on the current status of the transfer portal and Name, Image, and Likeness in college sports.
Feb 3, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino yells out
Feb 3, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino yells out / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino has mentioned Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) at different points this season but has not gone into the depths of what is wrong with the concept until Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Shortly after St. John's fell to No. 1 UConn, 77-64, Pitino was asked about how important it is to keep the old-school feel of the Big East alive in its current form with rivalries and trash talking among the teams, specifically what has transpired between the Johnnies and Huskies over the last two months.

"It's a very difficult time in college basketball," the Hall of Famer said after initially crediting the sold-out crowd and historic venue for creating an electric atmosphere for the game.

"It's free agency," he added. "[The NCAA] is going to say everybody can transfer and then if [the school] doesn't like it, they are going to take them to court."

It's already happened this year when a judge's ruled to grant all NCAA transfers, who were denied eligibility due to a second transfer without graduating, temporary eligibility.

"I think the NCAA [Compliance Office] should be disbanded. Not because I dislike them, but they are of no value at all."

St. John's recruited 10 transfers this offseason after Pitino was named as the program's head coach but none had to sit out due to a second time transfer. It was either the first transfer for the player or they had graduated from their previous school.

Former Red Storm guard Andre Curbelo was the only player on last year's team to be affected by the transfer rules but was allowed on the court for Southern Mississippi after the judge's ruling.

"The [compliance staff] needs to go away and we need to stop all the hypocrisy about NIL."

Pitino did not specify whether he is for or against players benefitting from their Name, Image, and Likeness but said it doesn't matter because nothing will be adjusted or stopped.

He also referenced a recent segment on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt regarding the sustainability of NIL.

"They are professional athletes getting professionally paid," Pitino exclaimed. "It's not going away. The [NCAA Compliance] is going to get taken to court every time they make a ruling."

"It's a tough time in college basketball right now and, for us, we can't really build programs and a culture because everybody leaves."

St. John's will have to replace at least six players next season who have exhausted their eligibility and currently have three high school players signed to enter the program.

As for the current season, the Red Storm are trying to pick up the pieces after dropping five of its six games and earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2019.