West Virginia's Beilein hired at Michigan
It was planned to be a meeting where John Beilein told his West Virginia players how to prepare for offseason workouts. Instead, he told them goodbye.
John Beilein has won at all his Division I stops and is 293-175 in his career. He led West Virginia to the Elite Eight in 2005 and in 2007 guided the Mountaineers to the NIT title.
Beilein, who took the Mountaineers from mediocrity to two NCAA Tournaments and an NIT championship, is moving on to Michigan.
"Sometimes good things come to an end," Beilein told a news conference in Morgantown, W.Va. "It's time for me to do new things at a new university."
Beilein accepted Michigan's offer earlier in the day, and declined to reveal contract specifics. Michigan planned to introduce Beilein at a news conference on Wednesday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Beilein took the job despite not visiting Michigan's campus. He'd never been in Morgantown, either, before leaving Richmond for West Virginia.
"I'm taking a leap of faith -- again," he said.
The 54-year-old Beilein is the second straight Big East coach to take over at Michigan and is certain to see higher expectations. The Wolverines fired former Seton Hall coach Tommy Amaker in mid-March after six seasons without an NCAA appearance.
The Wolverines went to the NIT three times in the past four years. They haven't made the NCAAs since 1998.
"I am excited about this new opportunity at Michigan," Beilein said. "I wouldn't go there if I didn't think they could win a national championship."
Wherever he's coached, Beilein has been a success, taking teams without great talent to five NCAA Tournaments and six NIT appearances in 29 seasons.
When he arrived at West Virginia in April 2002, the Mountaineers were coming off an 8-20 season in which Gale Catlett ended a 24-year career three weeks early in disgust over his team's poor performance and lack of pride.
Beilein went 104-60 at West Virginia, including 27-9 this year despite losing his top four scorers from a year ago. Only one other team in school history won more games -- a Jerry West-led team that lost to California in the NCAA championship game in 1959.
Beilein's teams made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament the previous two seasons and the Mountaineers beat Clemson 78-73 for the NIT title last week.
He's leaves behind a promising team that loses only top scorer Frank Young and center Rob Summers.
"A lot of guys are really sad and trying to figure out what they're going to do," Summers said. "I told them they're still a team. Even though the coach left, you're still a family."
West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said in a statement university officials had hoped Beilein would remain at the school for the rest of his career. He said the university would begin a search for a new coach immediately.
"We want to thank John Beilein for his five years at West Virginia University and the success that he has brought to the program. Under his leadership, WVU has achieved new levels of national prominence and success within the [Big East] Conference," Pastilong said.
In 2005, after taking the Mountaineers to the NCAA regional finals, Beilein received a contract extension to throw off a possible courtship from Virginia. A year ago he was courted heavily by North Carolina State but negotiations broke down over his contract's buyout clause.
It will cost Michigan $2.5 million to buy out Beilein at West Virginia, plus perhaps about $1 million a season in a multiyear contract and $900,000 to Amaker for firing him without cause.
West Virginia has become an attractive fishing ground for coaches lately. In December, Alabama tried to lure football coach Rich Rodriguez before he decided to stay in Morgantown and was given a two-year contract extension. But he lost his offensive line and wide receivers coaches to higher-profile jobs.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press