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.
Anderson's hire was announced Tuesday, though contractual details were not disclosed. In a statement, Anderson said his goal is to "build upon the tremendous tradition of Iona basketball and elevate the program to greater heights."
Anderson replaces 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.
Anderson will need to reload Iona's roster quickly, though, as the Gaels' two best players entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, sources told ESPN's Jeff Borzello. MAAC Player of the Year Walter Clayton Jr. entered in the afternoon, followed a couple hours later by Nelly Junior Joseph, a two-time first-team All-MAAC performer.
Clayton Jr., a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists this past season, shooting 43.1% from 3-point range. He had 15 points and three 3-pointers in the first-round NCAA tournament loss to UConn.
Junior Joseph, a 6-foot-9 power forward, has been one of the most productive players in the league all three seasons at Iona. He averaged a career-high 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds this past season, shooting 55% from the field.
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.
"We have long known him to be a fantastic coach and an even better person," Iona athletic director Matt Glovaski said in a statement. "Now, with his team's impressive run in the NCAA tournament, everyone paying attention to March Madness also knows this. We're delighted that he will be at the helm of our men's basketball program."
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.
Along with 22 years of head-coaching experience, Anderson also brings experience in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference from his time as an assistant coach for Siena from 2011 to '13. Iona has been the alpha of the MAAC in recent seasons, as the school has reached eight of the past 11 NCAA tournaments. That's an incredible run that spans the tenures of Tim Cluess and Pitino, who reached the tournament in two of the three years he was at Iona.
Overall, Iona has reached 16 NCAA tournaments, with the only postseason win coming under the watch of Jim Valvano in 1980. The school has also won 13 regular-season league titles and 14 conference titles in its existence.