Beilein to State still in question

As more information points to John Beilein taking the North Carolina State coaching job, WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong sounded as frustrated as most fans.

When asked if Beilein, WVU's fourth-year coach, is indeed leaving, Pastilong said that "you have as much information as we have."

If that reads like a copout, it likely is not. Beilein has been extremely tight-lipped about any kind of formal statements, and it might be that he and N.C. State athletic director Lee Fowler are having only personal conversations. State has allegedly still not asked WVU's permission to speak with Beilein, which is not required but normally done as a token of respect to another program.

It is known that Beilein was not in his office all day. Conflicting first-hand statements were made as to whether he was in Morgantown or Raleigh.

Several major N.C. State donors have said that the deal is finished and that Beilein will be the next Wolfpack head coach, but nothing has been officially confirmed. That is a direct contradiction to a report by Fox Sports stating that the Beilein-to-State deal won't happen because of the buyout.

"The buyout is incredible," the source told Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman. "I think he wanted to do it, but couldn't."

Steve Lavin, considered the other finalist in the search, withdrew his name earlier today. His sticking point was confirmed to have been the $200,000 base salary. Lavin, guaranteed $600,000 from ESPN, wanted State to up its guarantee. The University could not because of state law. He will remain with ESPN as an analyst.

Beilein's rumored contract is allegedly worth approximately $1.25 million per year ($200,000 base guarantee), with a $500,000 payback by Beilein each year for three years. That would amount to half of the $3 million buyout which N.C. State would have to pay WVU to hire Beilein. The other $1.5 million would be covered by various N.C. State sources.

Beilein agreed to the contract's buyout clause March 30, 2005 in the third amendment to his original contact, signed April 18, 2002. The amendment states that Beilein owes WVU $500,000 a year for each year remaining on the contract. The contract, rolled over every year at the discretion of WVU President David C. Hardesty, was not yet rolled over this season, meaning WVU would garner nearly $3 million instead of $3.5 million. Beilein's contract was extended to 2012 last year and he would make $720,000 this year at West Virginia – about what he would make after payments to N.C. State.

Beilein, who fired agent Dennis Coleman – who contracted the current deal with WVU – would likely want to reduce the buyout, or spread it out to several seasons. Pastilong refused to comment on if he has contacted any other coaches. He also would not say if WVU would allow State to spread the payments out.

"Now is, I think, not the time to be making comments regarding that," he said.

West Virginia, however, would be extremely foolish to allow the Wolfpack to take its coach and then spread the payments out. N.C. State should be made to pay the full amount up front.

George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga is rumored to be interested in the WVU job. Former WVU assistant coach Jeff Neubauer would also likely want the job, as well as current assistant Jerry Dunn. Bob Huggins, who allegedly has not yet signed a contract with Kansas State, would likely be the fans' first choice. But differences between Huggins and some in the WVU administration as to how the program should be run led to his non- hire four years ago and might again hinder the effort.

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