Beilein Plays Travel Agent for Overseas Trip

Head basketball coach John Beilein is the epitome of a hands-on administrator, but he went above and beyond even his normal levels of involvement when he devised and scheduled big chunks of his team's upcoming trip to Europe.

"I did the same thing when my Canisius team went to Portugal," Beilein said of his travel agent role. "I feel like you can create a quality trip, especially if you take ownership of it. This is my way of doing that. With the Internet and cell phones, you are pretty much able to get all the information you need, and also get in contact with the people to make it happen.

"The big problem was scheduling games," WVU's chief continued. "With the Olympics in August, a lot of teams in Europe aren't starting their seasons until after they are over. So, a lot of those teams weren't available to play when we are going to be over there. We're not allowed to miss any school for a trip like this, so our options were somewhat limited."

In the end, Beilein was able to secure six good games, including four against national level squads in German and Holland, partly with the help of some contacts overseas. Beilein also secured a game against a club team that's approximately two hours from Joe Herber's hometown of Darmstadt, Germany, which should easily allow his friends and family to watch him play.

"I have some personal contacts and people I know over there, and each of them speak either German or Dutch in addition to English, so they were able to help us a great deal," Beilein said. "Many of the people that I spoke with also spoke English, but it helps to have someone that speaks both that I know and can work with."

In addition to getting a personalized trip, Beilein's efforts also saved the WVU athletic department some money. And although the head coach downplayed that aspect of his travel agent duties, a safe estimate is that his work saved somewhere in the range of $10-$20,000 for his department.

Not many head coaches at high major Division 1 schools would undertake such a task, especially one that doesn't result in any personal compensation. The fact that Beilein did so is yet another testament to his desire to do anything possible to help the basketball program.

One other benefit of the trip is the additional practice time the Mountaineers will get prior to their trip. WVU will begin working out as a team on August 1, and will get eight days of practice before departing on August 9. Mike Gansey, who sat out last year as a transfer from St. Bonaventure, and Jonathan Curran, who graduated last year, will be allowed to practice with the team and work out.

The four newcomers to the program (scholarship players Darris Nichols and Luke Bonner, along with walkon Ted Talkington and transfer Robert Summers), are not allowed to go according to NCAA rules.

"Even though they have signed with us, they are still treated as recruits," Beilein said of Nichols and Bonner. "So, they can't start practice with us until the first day allowed by the NCAA in the fall."

Nichols and Bonner are enrolled in the second session of summer school (which began on Thursday, July 1) while Talkington and Summers will enroll for the fall semester.

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