WVU, Beilein Agree On Contract Buyout

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former West Virginia basketball coach John Beilein will pay the university $1.5 million for leaving for Michigan with five years remaining on his contract, WVU announced Thursday night.

The amount is $1 million less than the penalty called for in Beilein's contract, which ran through the 2012 season.

"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," said Tom Dorer, WVU's general counsel. "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, WVU said.

The foundation will serve as a mechanism to provide the money to WVU athletics, Fitzsimmons said.

Beilein was introduced as Michigan's coach on April 4, six days after leading West Virginia to the National Invitation Tournament championship. West Virginia hired alumnus Bob Huggins from Kansas State shortly after Beilein left.

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

"With this agreement the matter of my contract with West Virginia has been resolved," Beilein said in a statement released Thursday night. "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. ...

"I will take great pride in following the future success of that team and all of the other student-athletes who I had the privilege to coach while at West Virginia."

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

"It never came up because there was no way Michigan was going to pay it," Martin said after introducing Beilein at a news conference in Ann Arbor. "To John Beilein's credit, he said, `The buyout is my responsibility.'"

Fitzsimmons said Beilein will miss WVU and its fans but that the coach 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.

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," said WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong. "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."

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