On a day when Roy Williams surprised the college basketball world by taking the head coaching spot at North Carolina, the Michigan basketball program was left dealing with a departure of its own.

New Dayton head coach – and former Michigan State associate head coach – Brian Gregory announced yesterday that he hired former Michigan assistant coach Billy Schmidt to help fill out his first staff.

Schmidt was a member of the Wolverines’ coaching staff for the last two years, following current Michigan coach Tommy Amaker over from Seton Hall in 2001. The 33-year-old Schmidt had joined Amaker’s Seton Hall staff a year prior to that move.

“Tommy has taught me a lot of things while I have been with him and the one thing he has always said is ‘You can’t control timing,’ ” Schmidt said. “I think this is an opportunity to challenge myself professionally – everyone on the Michigan coaching staff is supporting me.”

Dayton will mark the fifth stop of Schmidt’s brief coaching career. He began his time in the college ranks as an administrative assistant and assistant coach at Tennessee. After that, Schmidt moved to the assistant coaching spot at Northwestern and was a member of the Wildcats’ staff for four years before Amaker lured him away.

“We are very fortunate to bring in an assistant coach with the experience that Billy has,” Gregory said in a statement. “He has helped build four programs in the SEC, Big East and the Big Ten.

“He has exceptional work ethic, which will make him very important in our recruiting efforts, as well as day-in and day-out with our players. He’s done a tremendous job developing post players – Evan Eschmeyer at Northwestern, and Eddie Griffin and Sam Dalembert at Seton Hall.”

Gregory and Schmidt worked together at Northwestern under current Detroit Pistons assistant coach Kevin O’Neill.

“Everyone was informed of the decision: It was proper protocol,” said a source close to the Michigan program. “It was a good decision for him personally and professionally. It didn’t come as a surprise, specifically because this is the time of year when there’s a lot of movement.”

According to Schmidt, he visited Dayton at the end of last week to tour the campus and facilities and interview formally for the job.

“I met with the (Michigan) coaches and players to tell them of my decision – and I can tell you that this is not an easy thing,” Schmidt said. “They know I gave them everything I had and that this has been a difficult decision for me.

“On a personal note I will forever be grateful for my opportunity here – Tommy has made me not only a better coach, but a better person.”

Michigan’s search for an assistant coach to replace Schmidt is expected to begin immediately.

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