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Pitino assistant Young to earn more than any Smith assistant

Kimani Young, 39, will make $185,000 in a one-year deal.

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.

Young, 39, will make $185,000 in base pay in a one-year deal.

Ron Jirsa, Smith’s go-to assistant, earned $150,000 in base pay, according to his 2007 contract.

Young and Balado followed Richard Pitino from Florida International University, where the three coaches helped lead a struggling program to its first winning season in 13 years.

Pitino’s salary at FIU was $250,000. He’ll make about $1.2 million annually at Minnesota.

Smith, whose assistants were paid $60,000 to $150,000, took home $1.8 million per year.

Balado’s $80,000 annual salary is $5,000 less than former director of basketball operations Joe Esposito’s salary while on staff with Smith.

Young was convicted of felony drug possession 14 years ago and served a year in prison. Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague said last week in a release that the incident was “an aberration in an otherwise positive and stable life.”

Young and Balado’s salaries are competitive with other Big Ten assistants’ salaries, but the lack of job security and incentives make the agreements a little less appealing.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan signed three of its assistants to extensions last May, and all signed contracts at least three years long with $155,000 per year. All three Wolverines assistants have incentives for Big Ten and NCAA tournament performance as well.

Johnson in the mix for third assistant

Rumors swirled during the weekend that Ben Johnson, current assistant coach at Nebraska, will be named another Pitino assistant soon.

Johnson, 32, has been at Nebraska for one season.

Pitino interviewed him Monday in Atlanta, the site of this year’s NCAA Final Four, according to 1500ESPN. Johnson is a former Gophers player and standout at DeLaSalle High School, which prized local recruit Reid Travis attends.

As of Sunday, Johnson had not been officially named an assistant.

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