MINNEAPOLIS — Richard Pitino’s coaching staff is starting to come together, and one of his new hires has an interesting track record.
The University of Minnesota announced Wednesday that Mike Balado and Kimani Young will join Pitino in his first year as the Gophers head coach. Both were assistants under Pitino last season at Florida International, where the coach helped turn a struggling program into an 18-game winner.
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Young, 39, comes to Minnesota with more than the usual backstory. According to a 2005 El Paso Times article, Young was arrested in 1999 for possession of marijuana — 96 pounds of it — and served one year in an Allenwood, Pa., federal prison.
Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague was aware of Young’s past transgression and issued a statement Wednesday on the incident.
“President Eric Kaler and I each spoke at length with college presidents and athletic directors at schools employing Coach Young and received assurances that Kimani was a positive influence and leader for their programs and student-athletes,” Teague said in the statement. “Coach Young’s mistake, more than 14 years ago, was an aberration in an otherwise positive and stable life. He has been an upstanding leader in every university community he has worked and lived since that time.”
Young has held several other titles since his arrest. Recently, he was the athletic director at New Heights Youth, Inc. in New York from 2006-08 and again from 2009-12. Young also served as the video coordinator and head manager at St. John’s University during the 2008-09 season. His first experience as an assistant coach came last year at FIU.
Before joining Pitino’s staff at FIU, Balado was an assistant coach at High Point University for three seasons. He also has assistant coaching experience at Miami Dade College and Florida Atlantic University. He played collegiately at St. Thomas University in Miami and Warner Southern College.
“I am excited about the additions of Coach Balado and Coach Young to our staff at the University of Minnesota,” Pitino said in a statement. “Both of these guys played a huge part in our turnaround at Florida International. They are well respected within the coaching community as terrific recruiters and leaders of student-athletes.”
Pitino was introduced last week as the Gophers’ new head coach. He replaces Tubby Smith, who was fired after six seasons and a second-round exit in the NCAA tournament. The 30-year-old Pitino, whose father, Rick, recently led Louisville to an NCAA title, has just one year of head coaching experience.