Mike Repole is seen during the draw for the 155th Belmont...

Mike Repole is seen during the draw for the 155th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, 2023. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

WASHINGTON – Rick Pitino is of two minds because he has to be. He wants the Red Strom to finish the season strong and he also knows he has to start thinking about the next team. And that means considering what the program is going to need when the NCAA transfer portal opens up the day after Selection Sunday.

Before tip-off Wednesday night, he got a boost toward that effort from prolific entrepreneur and St. John’s alumnus Mike Repole, who took to social media with a vow to lend even greater support to the program to prepare it for the next season.

Repole came to wealth and fame as the co-founder of Vitaminwater maker Glaceau, which was sold to Coca-Cola for more than $4 billion; he subsequently started BODYARMOR, a sports-drink maker, that also was sold to Coca-Cola.

“I need and will do more @StJohnsBBall than I did this year,” Repole said, referring to the basketball program’s ‘handle,’ in a social media post from the official account of his horse racing venture. “Rick @RealPitino, Fr. Shanley, and St John’s: I’m committed. . . . LFG!!!!!”

Near the bottom of his post, it read “#7 digits,” which likely indicated his promise to make a seven-figure donation to NIL efforts that support the Red Storm.

“Mike's been behind us all the way,” Pitino said of Repole’s pledge. “He's been great to us and to some other sports. A fabulous booster. . . . And he's just a big fan.”

“But it's not about money with this program: St John's can be every bit as good as any program,” he added.

Obviously, NIL money is now a big part of any recruiting effort and Pitino and his staff have watched a lot of other teams to get an idea about what players might be a good fit for the Storm.

“It's tough though,” Pitino said. “I'm not going to lie to you: it gets really tough because I'm going to lose six guys . . . and I got to replace them. And I was thinking in my mind, you know what we have to do now when his portal opens.”

Repole’s pledge suggests St. John’s will have the means, whatever Pitino decides.

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