John Beilein to leave Michigan, become coach of Cleveland Cavaliers

Monday, May 13, 2019 - 9:15am

John Beilein will become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

John Beilein will become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Buy this photo
Alexandria Pompei/Daily

John Beilein will leave Michigan to become the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after signing a five-year deal, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The news has also been confirmed by Michigan spokesperson Tom Wywrot. The school has no plans for a press conference today, or in the near future, per Wywrot.

According to Wojnarowski, Beilein reached a decision on Sunday and informed his staff and players Monday morning. Beilein himself confirmed the news via Twitter later in the morning.

“Thanks to everyone at the Univ of Michigan for their incredible support these last 12 years,” Beilein tweeted. “Our fans, alums, leaders, players and students are AMAZING It has been a heck of a ride and I hope you enjoyed our teams and staff as much as I did! Go Blue Forever! #GoBlue”

The Cleveland Cavaliers also issued a statement from Beilein on their website alongside announcements from general manager Koby Altman and chairman Dan Gilbert.

I want to thank the University of Michigan for what has been a truly special home and remarkable place for my family and I for the last 12 years. We have achieved great success together and we could not have done it without the incredible support of our administration, coaches, players, staff, students, fans and the entire university community. We shared some of the best moments of my life together and I will always be grateful for that,” Beilein said in the statement. “At the same time, I felt very strongly about this new and exciting opportunity with the Cavaliers. I am very thankful to Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman and honored to be the head coach of the Cavaliers. I love the position the team is in to build and grow and this was something I felt was the perfect fit for me. With hard work and dedication by all of us, we will grow this team day by day and reinforce a culture of success that sustains itself with strong core values. Cleveland is a great city with amazing fans and I am really looking forward to calling Cleveland home for years to come.

Altman cited Beilein’s ability to build a culture and his winning pedigree at the college level, saying they interviewed several candidates and it was clear Beilein would be the best fit.

He has a unique ability to create an outstanding culture that will promote the development of young players and provide a solid structure to the entire program; not to mention the fact that John Beilein wins everywhere he goes,” Altman said. We are excited Coach Beilein is joining our organization as we continue to build the foundation that any enterprise needs to be successful and competitive year in and year out.”

Beilein was hired as the coach of the Michigan men’s basketball team in 2007. Since then, he has led the Wolverines to nine NCAA Tournaments, five Sweet Sixteens and two Final Fours. During the same time frame, he won Big Ten regular-season titles in 2012 and 2014 and tournament titles in 2017 and 2018. He revived a program that previously had not made the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

In the recently concluded 2018-19 season, Beilein guided Michigan to a record-best 17-0 start and an eventual 30-7 record, making the finals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines earned a No. 2 seed in March Madness, where they lost to Texas Tech in the Sweet Sixteen. However, in the aftermath, several key players — wing Charles Matthews, guard Jordan Poole and forward Ignas Brazdeikis — declared for the draft, and Poole and Matthews have already announced they will remain there.

Last summer, Beilein was reportedly in talks to become the coach of the Detroit Pistons, but decided to remain at Michigan. In July, he signed a contract extension through 2023, with a rollover clause that would keep him in Ann Arbor as long as both sides desired.

However, this time around, the Cavaliers were too enticing to pass up. According to Wojnarowski, Beliein had become frustrated with the world of college basketball recruiting and the nature of top teams losing their players year after year. Beilein was also an appealing choice to NBA teams for the work he did rebuilding the Wolverines into a top national contender after years mired in mediocrity.

“We could not be more thrilled to name John Beilein as the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Gilbert said in a statement. First, John is a great human being. He cares deeply about his players and others who work for him and around him. He defines the words class, integrity and character. He is a tireless worker who obsesses about finding better ways and the inches that will help his team and the organization grow. John is a brilliant basketball mind and last but not least, John Beilein is a winner. I also want to thank Koby and his hardworking staff for turning over every rock while relentlessly searching for our new head coach since the minute this past season ended. It is no surprise that Koby and his team landed on John Beilein as great cultures attract others who hold the same values as the foundation for everything they do. I can’t wait for next season to begin.”

Staying in Cleveland will also allow Beilein to stay relatively close to home, as well as just a few hours drive to his son Patrick, who is now the coach of Niagara.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, athletic director Warde Manuel thanked Beilein for his time at the University and said that he would commence a national search for the next coach. Michigan hired the search firm Turnkey Search — the same firm it used to hire Manuel in 2016 — according to the Detroit Free Press. 

I was saddened when John told me this morning of his decision to leave Michigan for a head coaching position in the NBA. However, I am incredibly thankful for his 12 years of service to this university,” said Manuel. Above and beyond being our all-time winningest coach, John is a tremendous role model for the game of college basketball. He is an outstanding educator, community member and a man of great integrity, and he and Kathleen will be missed. My priority now is to commence a full national search for our next basketball coach.

This story is developing and will be updated as The Daily learns more information.