Iona signs 5-year deal with FDU’s Tobin Anderson

Pete ThamelESPN4 minute read

Relive the best underdog upsets from Princeton, FDU and more

Relive the most unexpected NCAA Tournament upsets from Princeton, Furman, Fairleigh Dickinson and Arkansas.

NCAA Tournament coaching star Tobin Anderson of Fairleigh Dickinson has agreed to a five-year contract to become Iona’s next coach, sources have told ESPN.

The deal has been finalized, sources say, and Anderson is expected to brief his team during a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Anderson will replace Rick Pitino, who left Iona for St. John’s on Monday after three seasons. Replacing Pitino, Iona struck fast and landed a coach that captured the nation’s attention with two NCAA Tournament wins last week.

During his freshman year in FDU, Anderson led the team to what many consider the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history. The 16th-seeded Knights upset No. 1 Purdue 63-58 for only the second upset of a No. 1 seed in the first round since the men’s tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 It propelled a junior high school lifer to become a household name in college basketball over the course of a weekend.

In the wake of the upset, FDU and Anderson became NCAA tournament darlings, including a Monday morning appearance on “Today” returning from the Round of 16 loss to ninth seed Florida Atlantic in Columbus.

The victory lit the path for Anderson, an Iowa native who worked his way through a pair of Division III head coaching jobs and nine seasons at Division II St. Thomas Aquinas before land Fairleigh Dickinson’s job in May. He picked up a four-game winning team and went 21-16.

Sources have told ESPN that Anderson impressed the Iona brass when the Gaels last opened in 2020. Anderson spoke to Iona officials in person and was one of three finalists when they hired Pitino in 2020, the sources say. This time, Anderson will replace him.

Anderson’s Fairleigh Dickinson team advanced with two NCAA Tournament wins – a blowout from Texas Southern in the top four and a stunner from Purdue – despite what is considered the shortest roster in all of basketball university this year. But belief outweighed FDU’s size, as the Knights swarmed and shook off Purdue’s guards to claim 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 working his way through the junior school ranks to learn his trade. Wherever he coached, victory tended to follow.

Anderson was an assistant coach at Division III Clarkson and Division II Le Moyne before becoming Clarkson’s head coach in 1999.

In addition to 22 years of experience as a head coach, Anderson also brings experience to the Metropolitan Atlantic Athletic Conference from his time as assistant coach of the Siena Bulldogs from 2011-2013. Iona was MAAC’s alpha in recent seasons, with the school reaching eight of the last 11 NCAA tournaments. It’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 lone playoff victory being under the watch of Jim Valvano in 1980. The school has also won 13 regular season league titles and 14 conference titles during its existence.

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