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St. John’s Coach Rick Pitino Courts Wall Street for Financial Lessons

St. John’s coach has reportedly turned to a unique source to revive his basketball program.

Goldman Sachs.

As Bloomberg News reported Wednesday (Nov. 1), Rick Pitino has hired a former executive from the Wall Street bank to teach his team to manage their money at a time when pay for college players remains a hotly debated topic.

This week, he brought his players to the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell, something Bloomberg notes happened in 1996 when Pitino coached the Kentucky Wildcats, which had won the 1996 National Championship. 

He told Bloomberg that his current school, based in Queens, New York, has some work to do before reaching that level.

“St. John’s was this legendary program that I grew up with in the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s and it’s fallen on hard times,” Pitino said. “So we’ve got to bring it back and it definitely can come back.”

As the report notes, St. John’s has had trouble competing with top tier schools. Now, NIL (name, image or likeness) money is up for grabs among players following recent rule changes.

Peter Schoenthal, CEO of compliance software firm Athliance, said in an interview with PYMNTS in 2021 that the change in NCAA rules and legislation “is huge for brands,” as it opens the doors to about 500,000 “ambassadors” and spokespeople.

“College athletes across the nation have been known as household names while they’re in school and while they’re performing, but for so long, you couldn’t do anything with them if you’re a brand,” Schoenthal said. “Now, you can.”

To help his players know the best course to take if NIL money comes their way, Pitino asked Jim Riley, a St. John’s graduate and former managing director at Goldman Sachs, to talk with the team about finances.

Pitino told Bloomberg players need to understand how to pay taxes and how to invest. St. John’s squad has set up a “collective” that raises money to pay the players, he added.

“I think at first they are going to give some money to their families,” said Pitino. “But now it’s time to invest, and we were telling them how to do it.”

Meanwhile, NCAA officials are lobbying Congress to create a federal law that gives their organization the leave to regulate how athletes can profit from the sale of NIL rights.

Earlier this year, a number of college athletes lent their support to such legislation, and while a recent NCAA policy update lets students earn income from their abilities on the court or field, concerns have arisen that an unregulated system can trigger competitive bidding wars.