Fairleigh Dickinson‘s Tobin Anderson, the breakout coaching star of the NCAA tournament, has agreed to a five-year deal to become the next coach at Iona, sources told ESPN.
The deal has been finalized, according to sources, and Anderson is expected to inform his team at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Anderson will replace Rick Pitino, who left Iona for St. John’s on Monday after three seasons. In replacing Pitino, Iona has struck quickly and lands a coach who captured the country’s attention with two NCAA tournament victories last week.
In his first year at FDU, Anderson led the team to what many consider the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history. The 16th-seeded Knights stunned No. 1 Purdue 63-58 for just the second upset of a No. 1 seed in the first round since the men’s tournament expanded to 64 teams back in 1985. That propelled a small-school lifer to become a household name in college basketball in the course of a weekend.
In the wake of the upset, FDU and Anderson emerged as the darlings of the NCAA tournament, including a Monday morning appearance on “Today” upon return from the round-of-32 loss to ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic in Columbus.
The victory illuminated the path of Anderson, an Iowa native who hopscotched his way through a pair of Division III head-coaching jobs and nine seasons at Division II St. Thomas Aquinas before landing the Fairleigh Dickinson job in May. He took over a four-win team and went 21-16.
Sources told ESPN that Anderson impressed the Iona brass when the Gaels job last opened back in 2020. Anderson spoke in person to Iona officials and was one of the three finalists when they hired Pitino back in 2020, per sources. This time, Anderson will replace him.
Anderson’s Fairleigh Dickinson team advanced with two victories in the NCAA tournament — a blowout of Texas Southern in the First Four and the Purdue stunner — despite having what’s considered the shortest roster in all of college basketball this year. But belief compensated for FDU’s size, as the Knights swarmed and rattled Purdue’s guards to capture the victory.
Anderson played for his father, Steve, at Interstate 35 High School in his home state. From there, he played Division III basketball at Wesleyan before grinding his way through the small-school ranks to learn his craft. Wherever he coached, winning has tended to follow.
Anderson served as an assistant coach at Division III Clarkson and Division II Le Moyne before becoming the Clarkson head coach in 1999.