ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan desperately wanted to hire John
Beilein and was willing to make him the highest-paid basketball
coach in school history.
Beilein clearly coveted the job because he's going to pay his
previous employer to leave -- and he accepted an offer without
visiting the Ann Arbor campus.
His contract with West Virginia had a $2.5 million buyout clause
-- $500,000 for each year remaining on his deal -- and he said his
lawyers are taking care of that.
"The buyout issue is sensitive, but I wanted to be the coach of
Michigan," Beilein said Wednesday after being introduced at a news
conference. "Obviously, the buyout was something I had to
Michigan will pay Beilein $1.3 million a season, plus bonuses,
as part of a six-year contract.
Athletic director Bill Martin, who said football coach Lloyd
Carr is making $1.6 million a year, hopes Beilein's contract
demonstrates a commitment to basketball at a school where that has
"It does to me," Martin said.
Martin said negotiations on economics with Beilein took 10
seconds, adding he didn't need to address the buyout issue.
"It never came up because there was no way Michigan was going
to pay it," Martin said. "To John Beilein's credit, he said, 'The
buyout is my responsibility.'"
Both Beilein and West Virginia hope to keep the resolution
"The agreement on the buyout is between coach Beilein and West
Virginia University," the school said in a statement from its
general counsel's office. "Any details will be worked out between
the two parties."
Michigan fired Tommy Amaker, who was making nearly $1 million a
season, last month after his sixth season without an NCAA
appearance. The Wolverines last made the tournament in 1998.
The school's pool of candidates began with 40 names. Once it was
trimmed to about a dozen, Martin said he read everything he could
about each coach before the list was cut to six or seven. Several
coaches were interviewed, but Martin would only talk about his
2-hour session Friday with Beilein in Atlanta.
Former Michigan and NBA player Tim McCormick, who was on
Martin's search committee, raved about Beilein.
"Michigan has had good recruiters and good coaches, but Beilein
is the best basketball coach Michigan has ever had," McCormick
said. "His offense is creative and exciting, he mixes zone and
man-to-man defenses, and he's won wherever he's been."
The 54-year-old Beilein is 551-318 with 26 winning seasons
during a 29-season career in college that started at Erie (N.Y.)
Community College and continued at Nazareth, LeMoyne, Canisius,
Richmond and West Virginia.
Previous moves were made with his wife in a moving truck and
kids in car seats. His latest was in a private jet Wednesday
morning with Michigan officials, his wife and two of their sons.
"I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario," said Beilein, whose
hometown is Burt, N.Y. "We've made almost a complete circle back
to the Great Lakes."
Amaker took over a mess at Michigan, stemming from NCAA
violations, and cleaned up the program on and off the court. But he
didn't lead the Wolverines back to the NCAA tournament and was
relegated to the NIT in three of the past four years.
When Beilein 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, and advanced to a regional
final in 2005 and the round of 16 the next year.
Despite losing his top four scorers, he led the Mountaineers to
a 27-9 mark this season. Only the Jerry West-led team that lost to
California in the NCAA championship game in 1959 won more games in
West Virginia beat Clemson 78-73 for the NIT title last week.
Even though that was an accomplishment in a rebuilding year,
Beilein acknowledges success in the NIT is not what Michigan is
The school is paying him a lot to take a solid program and make
it spectacular. His base salary will be $200,000 and his additional
compensation is worth $1.1 million.
Beilein's non-cumulative bonuses include: $25,000 for helping
Michigan earn an NCAA tournament bid; $50,000 for advancing to the
round of 16; $100,000 if the Wolverines play in the Final Four; and
$150,000 for winning the national championship
"If you look at my paycheck, there ought to be pressure," he