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.
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,
Beilein took the job despite not visiting Michigan's campus.
He'd never been in Morgantown, either, before leaving Richmond for
"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
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.
"I'm taking a leap of faith -- again."
-- John Beilein
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,"
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.