The Gophers' hiring of former Xavier and Minnesota assistant Ben Johnson ensured they will pay less for their next men's basketball coach.

But it doesn't necessarily mean they are going the cheap route.

Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said in a meeting over the weekend that Johnson was "very specific" about the types of coaches he was going to target to be assistants.

"That caught our attention," Coyle said during Johnson's Tuesday introductory news conference.

Adding more experienced coaches to the staff is critical for a first-time head coach, so Johnson appreciated his new boss's "commitment to success."

"He's put us in position to really kill it," Johnson said. "With the amount of calls even I've gotten from guys in the business who've had interest. I mean it would shock probably some of you. From blue bloods on down. So now it's my job to figure out the right core, the right group."

Johnson's five-year deal is for $1.95 million annually, which ranks last among 12 Big Ten teams whose coaching salaries were public last season. Penn State and Northwestern do not disclose theirs.

Richard Pitino's salary was 10th in the Big Ten at $2.46 million for the final three years of his contract, but he was also due a $400,000 bonus April 30.

The U saved money by firing Pitino when it did, and a large portion of his $1.75 million buyout is expected to be mitigated with his hiring as New Mexico coach last week.

Coyle said the men's basketball head coach and assistant salaries were "toward the bottom of the Big Ten," but he wanted them to be competitive to attract top assistants for Johnson.

"We realize that for us to go out and compete for those type of coaches, we need to adjust our salary pool," Coyle said. "By having some flexibility with our head coach's salary, we were able to adjust our salary pool for our assistant coaches. We want to do everything we can."

Pitino assistants Ed Conroy, Kyle Lindsted and Jeff Mailhot will talk to Johnson in the coming days to see if he will retain any of them.

Johnson already has worked with Conroy, the associate head coach. Both coached under Pitino for two seasons from 2016 to '18, including on the 2017 NCAA tournament team. Conroy's nephew is 7-foot center Liam Robbins.

Among potential assistant coaching candidates with ties to Johnson are Colorado State's Dave Thorson, Baylor's Jared Nuness, Northern Iowa's Kyle Green and former Nebraska coach Tim Miles.

"People are excited about the possibilities of what we can do," Johnson said. "So, we'll find a great staff and we'll knock it out."