NCAA legislation to approve the use of multiyear student-athlete scholarships happened so fast that very few schools took the first step to distribute them. The University of Minnesota athletics department awarded only nine multiyear scholarships in 2012-13, the first year the NCAA has allowed them. Gophers officials were not made available to comment but released a statement.
Wally Ellenson works 40 hours a week and doesn’t get paid for it. As summer nears, the freshman athlete estimates he spends more than a full-time job’s hours practicing for Gophers men’s basketball — and track and field. The Rice Lake, Wis., native is better known for high-flying dunks at Williams Arena, but he’s competing in the high jump for the men’s track and field team this spring.
Richard Pitino has taken steps to distance himself from the Tubby Smith era of Gophers basketball, taking very little from the national champion coach. But the University of Minnesota officially announced four additions to Pitino’s staff late last week, one of whom was a special assistant to Smith during his six years with the Gophers.
The Gophers’ recruitment of Apple Valley High School star Tyus Jones began four years ago, and the nation’s top-ranked point guard prospect for 2014 hasn’t even started his senior year of high school. Former Gophers coach Tubby Smith visited Jones at his first practice before eighth grade in 2009, which helped initiate a storm of interest around the hometown recruit.
Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino has hired three assistants and nabbed a recruit two weeks into the most recognizable job of his life — all after watching his father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, win the NCAA championship in Atlanta on April 8. “It was hard for me because I just took the job,” Pitino said. “I had so much going on, and I wanted to just turn my phone off and enjoy it.”
Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino added some Big Ten experience to his staff Tuesday. Ben Johnson, a former Gophers player and Nebraska assistant, was named Pitino’s third assistant, according to a release. “I have been impressed with what I have personally seen and heard from a variety of knowledgeable people when they talk about Ben Johnson,” Pitino said in a release. “In addition to being a proud Minnesota alum, he brings the work ethic I am looking for and a knowledge of the University, the Midwest and the Big Ten conference.”
Empty white walls draped Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino’s office. Only hooks remained from what could have been Tubby Smith’s old dÃ©cor. Twelve days into his new position, Pitino has been buzzing through individual player workouts, hiring staff and taking the first steps in recruiting. But he’s not settled in yet. “Far, far from it,” Pitino said. “We’ll get there eventually. Don’t have time for that yet.”
Richard Pitino’s newly hired assistant coach Kimani Young will make more money than any of former coach Tubby Smith’s assistants. Pitino, who will make about $600,000 less than Smith per year as Gophers head basketball coach, has named two assistants and has two spots left to fill. Young and newly appointed director of basketball operations Mike Balado started his tenure Thursday. Pitino, the son of legendary coach Rick Pitino, took less than a week to hire half of his staff. It took the Gophers about a week-and-a-half to hire him.
New Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino is bringing two of his assistant coaches to Minnesota from Florida International. Mike Balado and Kimani Young were announced as assistant coaches Wednesday afternoon — five days after the press conference that named Pitino as Tubby Smith’s successor. Pitino hired Balado and Young to coach at FIU during his one-year stint with the Golden Panthers, when FIU won its most games since 1997-98.
Rodney Williams was hanging out with fellow Gophers basketball players when he heard the news that Richard Pitino was hired. The outgoing senior said his teammate, sophomore Oto Osenieks, sent the team a group message about the hire — and nobody believed him. “Ten minutes later it was all over the news,” Williams said. Two weeks earlier, after sophomore Andre Hollins, junior Austin Hollins and Williams earned their first career NCAA tournament victory, they were answering questions about Minnesota’s new basketball coach.
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