Michigan plans to talk to candidates this weekend

Updated: March 29, 2007, 5:00 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- Michigan is expected to seek out West Virginia coach John Beilein this weekend in Atlanta after the Mountaineers finish with the NIT final on Thursday night in New York.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that the Wolverines plan to unofficially interview three or four coach candidates -- possibly Beilein, Xavier's Sean Miller and Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery -- and then choose one for a formal interview. Their focus, though, is on Beilein.

The hang-up is that the buyout in Beilein's contract, a dollar-for-dollar match on his remaining deal -- presently worth $2.5 million -- isn't going away.

West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong, reached in New York, where he will attend the Mountaineers' NIT final against Clemson, said he hasn't heard from Michigan and expects Beilein to remain West Virginia's coach.

"We've got a nice young team, we've had nice success and we've got good facilities and a nice school and good fans. I like what he's doing," Pastilong said.

A source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Beilein would like to have the amount of his buyout reduced but that West Virginia won't budge. The Mountaineers likely would accept a payment plan if he left the program but probably wouldn't change the number. The amount could be altered in the future, the source said.

That would mean Michigan, which hasn't paid its basketball coach more than $1 million, would have to pay more than $2 million just to have Beilein as coach before even paying him a salary.

Meanwhile, Miller agreed to a healthy contract extension through 2015-16 after the Musketeers lost to Ohio State in overtime in the NCAA Tournament, and it would be hard for him to back out of it because he agreed to the deal. Lowery is not tied down at Southern Illinois and potentially could be a candidate for openings at Iowa and Arkansas.

The sleeper in Michigan's search to replace Tommy Amaker is Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings. A source close to Stallings confirmed that he will not take part in the process Michigan has outlined, but he could be looked at if Michigan's plans fall through and the Wolverines pursue Stallings directly. Otherwise, he is content to stay at Vanderbilt, where he just led the Commodores to their second Sweet 16 appearance in four years.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com