LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mike Balado, who served as an assistant coach at Florida International University last season, has joined the University of Louisville men’s basketball staff in a similar capacity as announced Friday by UofL Head Coach Rick Pitino.
Balado (pronounced bah-LAW-doe) helped FIU to quickly achieve success over the past year when the 18-14 Panthers produced their first winning season in 13 years, the fourth-highest win total in school history and the most Sun Best Conference victories (11) since joining the league in 1998-99. He was an assistant under Richard Pitino, the son of UofL head coach Rick Pitino who is now the head coach at Minnesota.
“Mike brings a wealth of experience in both the recruiting world and in coaching,” said Pitino. “An important factor in adding him to our staff was his knowledge of what we do defensively and in scouting, after working with Richard (Pitino) for a year. It should not take a great deal of time in acclimating him to our program. He’s a tireless worker and he should fit like a glove. He also brings another facet to our recruiting efforts, as he speaks fluent Spanish and has connections throughout Latin America.”
“I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to work for Coach Pitino and the University of Louisville,” said Balado. “Given the chance to learn from arguably the best coach, mentor, and person in the game of basketball is truly a blessing.”
Prior to his year at FIU, Balado worked three seasons at High Point University (2009-12), where he assisted in all areas of the Panther basketball program with a heavy concentration on recruiting. He spent the 2008-09 season on the University of Miami (Fla.) basketball staff where he helped the Hurricanes compile a 19-13 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) while working on player development, scouting and game preparation.
Prior to coaching at Miami, Balado spent three years on the Florida Atlantic University basketball staff. In Balado’s first season at FAU in 2005-06, the team posted its second-consecutive winning season, the first time since the early 1990s that the Owls had consecutive winning seasons. The team set a program scoring record, averaging 74.9 points per game, and produced the best Atlantic Sun Conference record in school history (14-6 mark in 2005-06).
Balado spent two seasons as an assistant at Miami Dade College before taking the post at FAU. While at Miami Dade, he helped lead the Sharks to back-to-back winning seasons, including a program-best 27-5 mark en route to the conference championship in 2004-05. He recruited four of Miami Dade’s 2004-05 all-conference selections, including the league player of the year.
Prior to his time at MDC, Balado spent a year at Nova Southeastern University, where he served as an assistant under head coach Gary Tuell, a former UofL assistant coach and sports information director. He began his collegiate coaching career at Augusta (Ga.) State University where he served as a graduate assistant from 1998-2000.
Balado played collegiate basketball at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he was a two-year starter and captain while helping his team win the regular season conference title in 1997. Recipient of a student-athlete leadership award as a senior, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Thomas in 1998 and a master’s of education in exercise and sport science from Augusta State in 2000.
A native of Miami, Fla., Balado speaks fluent Spanish. He is married to the former Alicia Nigro and the couple had twins, Aiden and Addy, in June 2009.
Balado replaces Kareem Richardson, who left UofL to become the head coach at the University of Missouri Kansas City. Richardson is the 26th former assistant or player under Rick Pitino who has risen to a collegiate head coaching position and is one of 10 active coaches on that list.