West Virginia, Beilein agree on contract buyout

Updated: April 26, 2007, 10:19 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former West Virginia basketball coach John Beilein will pay the university $1.5 million -- $1 million less than called for in his contract -- for taking the job at Michigan with five years remaining on his deal.

Beilein's contract, which ran through the 2011-12 season, called for a $2.5 million buyout for the early departure.

"After very productive discussions with Bob Fitzsimmons, Coach Beilein's attorney, we are pleased to have finalized the details related to Coach Beilein's departure from the university," Tom Dorer, West Virginia's general counsel, said Thursday. "Obviously from the fact we reached agreement, both parties wanted to move on and amicably resolve any remaining issues."

Under the agreement, Beilein will pay installments of $300,000 over the next five years to the West Virginia University Foundation. The first installment is due in April 2008 and the final one in April 2012, the school said.

Beilein was introduced as Michigan's coach on April 4, six days after leading West Virginia to the NIT championship, replacing Tommy Amaker, who was fired after six seasons. West Virginia hired alumnus Bob Huggins from Kansas State shortly after Beilein left.

"Although it is the time to look ahead to a promising future of University of Michigan basketball, my family and I will always treasure the five years we spent in West Virginia. We will miss the great fans of West Virginia University and especially the young men who just helped us win the 2007 NIT championship," Beilein said.

"Bob Huggins is a fortunate man to have an opportunity to coach this special group of student-athletes who will be returning from that team. I am sure what they were able to accomplish with that NIT postseason run will always be remembered in Mountaineer basketball history," he said.

Beilein resigned with five years left on his contract, which calls for him to pay a $500,000 penalty for each remaining year. The contract didn't specify a time frame for paying the buyout.

Both Beilein and Michigan athletic director Bill Martin have said the buyout issue was Beilein's responsibility, not Michigan's.

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 the buyout clause.

"The future looks bright. We're pleased with the direction and leadership of the basketball program. Today's agreement will allow us to move ahead to that future," West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said. "Things are really good right now for our athletic department. It's time to concentrate on a new chapter in the history of Mountaineer basketball."

Fitzsimmons said Beilein will miss West Virginia and its fans but he is looking forward to his new career at Michigan.

"I'm happy the negotiations are over and everybody was cooperative, and I'm looking forward to watching Michigan and West Virginia next year," Fitzsimmons said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press