Gophers to sign Ben Johnson, Joe Rossi to contract extensions

Ben Johnson was introduced Tuesday as the newest coach for the University of Minnesota men's basketball program.

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team and football team are in offseason mode, but that’s not stopping the school from keeping two coaches around at least another year.

Contract extensions for basketball coach Ben Johnson and Joe Rossi, the defensive coordinator in football, are expected to become official later this week, according to a Board of Regents document released last Friday. Johnson was hired in March of 2021 to replace Richard Pitino, and will receive a one-year extension that would put him under contract through the 2027 season.

Johnson’s salary will not change, as it still ranks last in the Big Ten. The Gophers finished 13-17 in Johnson’s first season, with a roster that featured 10 transfers. This offseason, Johnson has brought in former Prior Lake star and McDonald’s All-American Dawson Garcia, and guards Ta’Lon Cooper and Taurus Samuels. Minnesota also has a talented freshman class coming in that includes Minnesota natives Braeden Carrington, Joshual Ola-Joseph and Pharrel Payne, and guard Jaden Henley.

Johnson and the Gophers start summer workouts on campus this week.


The Gophers football team had one of the better defenses in the country last season, and the school is rewarding Joe Rossi. The defensive coordinator will receive a one-year contract extension later this week, after approval from the Board of Regents.

Rossi will be under contract through the 2024 season, and will make $800,000 for the 2022 season. He’ll make $850,000 in 2023, and $900,000 in the 2024 season. Rossi becomes the 10th-highest paid defensive coordinator in the Big Ten.

Under Rossi’s leadership, the Gophers finished No. 3 in the country last year in total defense, allowing 278.8 yards per game. Minnesota also finished eighth national in rushing defense at 97.5 yards per game, a mark that was third in the Big Ten. The Gophers were eighth nationally in passing defense at 181.2 yards per game, and finished sixth in scoring defense, allowing just 17.3 points per game.

The Gophers didn’t allow more than 20 points in six of their last seven games, including a 23-13 win over rival Wisconsin to end the regular season, and an 18-6 win over West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. In the win over the Badgers, Minnesota limited star running back Braelon Allen to just 55 yards on 17 carries.

Coming off a 9-4 season in 2021, the Gophers open the 2022 regular season on Thursday, Sept. 1 against New Mexico State and former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill at Huntington Bank Stadium.