Timing Issues

Michigan's reported offer of its vacant head basketball coaching job to John Beilein isn't leaving West Virginia much time to make a counter offer.

Both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News have reported that the Wolverines have made an offer to the highly successful head coach. Beilein, who has taken the Mountaineers to four consecutive post-season tournaments (two NCAA and two NIT), may have to make a decision as soon as today on the offer.

That quick timetable comes as a bit of a surprise, as discussions with Beilein and at least two other candidates were expected to take at least a couple of days during the Final Four in Atlanta. However, it has become clear that Michigan already had its offer put together and ready to go to its lead candidate, so the Wolverine administration took little time in conveying that to West Virginia's head coach. The pool of candidates was also thinned when Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery removed himself from contention by signing a new deal with the Salukis.

That tactic is a smart one from Michigan's point of view, as it prevents, or severely limits, West Virginia's ability to make a counteroffer or address whatever concerns Beilein has with the program at WVU. One of those, a basketball practice facility, could be a dealmaker or breaker in that process. Others, such as a new academic study center and the availability of more room in the Coliseum for offices and meeting space, are already in the works. However, with just a limited time to put together the sort of salary increase and commitment to facility upgrades that helped keep football head coach Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia, the WVU athletic administration is certainly under pressure to get everything lined up so that a formal counter-offer can be made.

The one good thing in the situation is that it won't be long or drawn-out. While no deadline for accepting or rejecting the deal has been announced, it appears as if the decision will be made no later than Tuesday, and could come as early as Monday afternoon or evening.

West Virginia, according to several sources, had been discussing a contract extension with Beilein for some time. The hang-up on that deal was the retention of a contract buyout clause, for which Beilein would be personally responsible. On Beilein's current contract, that figure stands at $2.5 million, with a decrease of $500,000 per year over the life of the contract. In return for signing a new deal, Beilein reportedly wanted that buyout clause removed. A new contract with West Virginia would likely pay Beilein more than $1 million per year.

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