Mike Balado Takes Men's Basketball Reins at A-State

JONESBORO, Ark. (News release) – Arkansas State University has hired Mike Balado as the head coach of its men’s basketball program, Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir announced Monday.

Balado comes to Arkansas State after most recently spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. He becomes the 16th head coach in program history.

“It’s a great tribute to our emerging brand that we can hire a lead assistant from an elite program,” Mohajir said. “Without a doubt, I think there is no one in the country more prepared to lead our program at this time than Mike Balado.

“Mike has proven himself to have outstanding coaching knowledge and exceptional recruiting abilities, along with the talent and desire to engage a community. Most importantly, he cares deeply about his players and their development as people, students and basketball players. He will do a wonderful job representing our athletics department and men’s basketball program.”

During Balado’s four seasons working with head coach Rick Pitino at Louisville, the Cardinals posted a 106-32 overall record for a .768 winning percentage. In the 2016-17 campaign, he helped lead Louisville to a 25-9 record and a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be the head men’s basketball coach at Arkansas State University,” Balado said. “The vision that (Athletics Director) Terry Mohajir and (System President) Dr. Chuck Welch have for this prestigious university is off the charts. I look forward to helping all these young men fulfill their dreams in the classroom, on the court and in life after basketball.”

In the summer of 2015, Balado served as an assistant coach with the Puerto Rico National Team under coach Rick Pitino. The team competed in the Pan American Games and FIBA Americas Championship. 

The Cardinals posted a 27-9 record in 2014-15 during their first season in the ACC and reached the NCAA Elite Eight.  The 2015-16 season saw Louisville put together a 23-8 record and a No. 16 ranking in the final Associated Press poll while beating two Final Four participants in North Carolina and Syracuse.

His first season with the program saw it post a 31-6 record, claim the American Athletic Conference tournament and regular-season championships, advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 and earn a top-five national ranking.

“It took about five minutes of talking to Coach Balado to realize he is the man to lead our basketball program,” said Arkansas State University System President Dr. Chuck Welch. “His enthusiasm, energy and experience at a high-level program make him the perfect fit. Most importantly, he made it very clear that he had done his research and wanted this job. When we made the offer he said, ‘Let’s go win some championships.’ I have no doubt that is exactly what we are about to do with Coach Balado.”

Prior to joining the Louisville staff, Balado was an assistant coach for Richard Pitino at Florida International University. During that 2012-13 season, he helped the Panthers to an 18-14 record, their first winning season in 13 years and fourth-highest win total in school history.

Before his year at FIU, Balado worked three seasons at High Point University (2009-12) as an assistant coach. 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.) staff where he helped the Hurricanes compile a 19-13 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). With the Hurricanes, he worked on player development, scouting and game preparation.

Preceding his stint at Miami, Balado spent three years on the Florida Atlantic University basketball staff. In his first two seasons at FAU (2005-07), the Owls had consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1990s. The Owls produced their best Atlantic Sun Conference record in school history (14-6) in his first season at FAU. The 2007-08 team set a program records with 2,367 points scored and 1,150 rebounds. 

Balado spent two seasons as an assistant at Miami Dade College (NJCAA) before taking the post at FAU. While at Miami Dade, he helped lead the Sharks to back-to-back winning season, 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.

Balado served as an assistant coach at Nova Southeastern University during the 2002-03 campaign. 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. He was the recipient of a student-athlete leadership award as a senior and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 1998. He earned 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 has twins, Aiden and Addy, born in June 2009.

What they are saying:

  • Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino - "Mike Balado is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the country. Mike is a terrific recruiter and on-the-court coach. He will have Arkansas State competing for Sun Belt titles year in and year out."
  • ESPN College Basketball Analyst Dick Vitale - “Mike has an incredible work ethic. He has tremendous basketball wisdom and is very energetic. There is no doubt to me, that he will be a success.”
  • ESPN College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman - “Mike has grinded his way through the ranks and has earned this opportunity. He has been a part of some really good teams at Louisville – and he is someone who is versatile and adaptable. He can recruit, coach and relate to people. There aren’t many coaches who can do all three.”
  • ASU System President Dr. Chuck Welch - “It took about five minutes of talking to Coach Balado to realize he is the man to lead our basketball program. His enthusiasm, energy and experience at a high-level program make him the perfect fit. Most importantly, he made it very clear that he had done his research and wanted this job. When we made the offer he said, ‘Let’s go win some championships.’ I have no doubt that is exactly what we are about to do with Coach Balado.”
  • A-State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir - “It’s a great tribute to our emerging brand that we can hire a lead assistant from an elite program. Without a doubt, I think there is no one in the country more prepared to lead our program at this time than Mike Balado.”

The Mike Balado File

Family: Wife, Alicia; twins Aiden and Abby
Education: College: St. Thomas University, 1998 (B.S.); Augusta State University, 2000 (M.S.)

Coaching Experience:

  • 1988-2000 Augusta State, graduate assistant
  • 2000-2002 Southridge High School, assistant coach
  • 2002-2003 Nova Southeastern, assistant coach
  • 2003-2005 Miami Dade College, assistant coach
  • 2005-2008 Florida Atlantic University, assistant coach
  • 2008-2009 University of Miami (Fla.), graduate assistant
  • 2009-2012 High Point University, assistant coach
  • 2012-2013 Florida International University, assistant coach
  • 2013-17 University of Louisville, assistant coach

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