Earlier this week, former WVU men’s basketball coach John Beilein made his final payment from his buyout to the university. His debt is now settled. He made a final payment of 300 thousand and that completed his 1.5 million dollar buyout after leaving his contract earley to go to Michigan in 2007.
The final payment was made quietly, professionally and without a lot of fanfare. Quite frankly, it was typical John Beilein.
Beilein is the consummate professional in the way he does his business and the way he has run his career. He advanced up the coaching ranks the old fashioned way, from junior college to small college, to a low Division I, to a mid-major, to WVU and to Michigan.
I am not naive here. I worked in athletics for over 30 years. I realize that behind closed doors, there is no doubt that from time to time, he had some knock-down, dragouts with the upper administration of Mountaineer athletics. Every coach does. The key is that it was done behind closed doors.
Beilein was also very professorial as a coach. I heard him speak glowingly of the fact that one of his players was reading a novel for pleasure while getting treatment in the whirlpool.
For the most part Beilein’ s departure came with very little drama. Oh, there was some gnashing of teeth as he negotiated down his damages caused from his depature from 2.5 million to 1.5 million. But, he appeared to have every right to do so. After all, days after his departure, WVU hired a former beloved player and a future Hall of Fame coach in Bob Huggins. Not really much damage there.
So how do we close the chapter on the John Beilein tenure at WVU? How about by saying "thank you."
Thank you for raising the bar college basketball in our state. Thank you for making college basketball relevant again in our state.
Thank you for the Elite Eight run in 2005, the Sweet 16 run in 2006 and NIT championship in 2007. Thank you for recruiting Da’Sean Butler and the nucleus of the team that went to the Final Four in Indianapolis. Thank you for making March Madness fun again in our state.
Let’s face it. College basketball can be a dirty business. Many of the coaches winning at the highest level are not exactly men of character and honor.
Beilein may not be perfect. But, he was and is a professional. Our state was lucky to have him.