Former Michigan coach Tommy Amaker was fired on March 17.
His replacement, John Beilein, was announced at a press conference yesterday afternoon.
But what happened in the two and a half weeks between the dismissal of one coach and the beginning of a new era in Wolverine basketball?
Immediately after Amaker was fired, Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin began his search for a suitable replacement.
He assembled a four-person committee to aid him in his search. It consisted of two former Michigan players – Tim McCormick and Marty Bodnar – as well as two members of the administration, director of undergraduate admissions Ted Spencer and associate athletic director Greg Harden.
From there, the committee went to work, assembling a list of 50 coaches who they believed were the best in college basketball. McCormick admitted that coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski were on the list even though they weren’t realistic possibilities.
The committee then pared the list of 50 down to the 10 coaches who they believed would be interested in taking the job at Michigan.
“We took off the coaches that we thought were just great recruiters because we think we need more than that,” McCormick said. “We got down to a list of about 10 names, the guys we really identified as the best Xs and Os guys, the best preparation guys, the guys who can really develop basketball skills. And in my opinion John Beilein was right at the top of that list.”
It was then up to the committee to narrow this list even further, so they could present a group of six qualified candidates for Martin to consider. After deliberation among the committee and Martin, that list was cut down to the three or four coaches that would be interviewed for the position.
Martin said he made it a point to not allow the committee members to rank the candidates because he wanted the flexibility to make the decision on his own.
“Bill was the CEO of this whole process,” McCormick said. “He did his due diligence. He talked to the people he trusted, got their opinions and then just went to work. We told him that John Beilein would be a perfect fit in this situation and I was very impressed with the way he just went out and got him.”
The whole process was delayed due to Beilein’s West Virginia team making a run in the NIT Tournament. The Mountaineers eventually won the tournament last Thursday.
Martin said he did not directly contact Beilein until West Virginia’s season was complete. He did acknowledge that he received word through another party that Beilein would be willing to interview for the job at the conclusion of his season.
After the NIT Final, Martin, Beilein and Beilein’s wife, Kathleen, flew to Atlanta for the Final Four. They met on Friday evening in a conference room at an Atlanta hotel for an interview.
“It was very informal,” Kathleen Beilein said. “We didn’t get into a lot of hardcore basketball. I think (Martin) was just trying to get a feel for us as much as we were trying to get a feel for him. And there was one point where (me and John) looked at each other and knew that this just seems right.”
Martin said he did have interviews with other candidates besides Beilein, but would not elaborate on whom they were with. Martin admitted the Friday interview with Beilein sealed the deal for him, and negotiations on a contract commenced very soon thereafter.
Although many predicted that Beilein’s 2.5 million dollar buyout in his contract with West Virginia would prove to be a sticking point, a deal was struck rather quickly.
“We verbally were able to get through everything subject the review of attorneys over last weekend,” Martin said.
In his introductory press conference yesterday, Beilein let it be known that Michigan is not responsible for his buyout from West Virginia and that his attorneys are taking care of the matter.
Beilein’s contract with Michigan was not finalized until Monday evening with approximately three minutes remaining in the first half of the National Championship game according to Martin.
Word on the hiring had leaked to the media by Monday night, but Martin chose not to make an official announcement until late Tuesday afternoon out of courtesy for Beilein’s wishes.
“He was very respectful of his team and players at West Virginia,” Martin said. “He didn’t want any announcement until he had the opportunity to talk with his team.”