CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers made a surprise move when it came to Monday’s hiring of former University of Michigan coach John Beilein to be the next leader of the franchise, but they did not do so lightly.
After an extensive set of interviews with candidates from all over the country, the Cavaliers chose Beilein because of his ability to develop programs, as he took four schools -- Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan -- to the NCAA Tournament and won 572 games at the Division I level.
“We could not be more thrilled to name John Beilein as the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said in a press release announcing the hire.
“John is a great human being. He cares deeply about his players and others who work for him and around him. He defines the words class, integrity and character. He is a tireless worker who obsesses about finding better ways and the inches that will help his team and the organization grow. John is a brilliant basketball mind, and last but not least, John Beilein is a winner.”
After coaching in the high school ranks, Beilein took a job at Erie Community College in Buffalo (1978-82) before moving onto Nazareth College (1982-83) and LeMoyne College (1983-92).
Beilein led Canisius to an 89-62 record over five seasons, as well as the 1993-1994 conference regular-season championship, the 1996 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title and an appearance in the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
Then, Beilein moved onto Richmond for the next five seasons, and the Spiders had a winning record in every one of those years, amassing a 100-53 record, including three 20-win marks. Beilein led Richmond to the 1998 CAA Tournament Championship, an appearance in the 1998 NCAA Tournament and the 2000-2001 CAA regular-season championship.
Following his run with Richmond, Beilein took over at West Virginia, where he guided the Mountaineers to four winning seasons, including three 20-win campaigns, a 27-win showing in 2006-2007 and three postseason trips.
Beilein was 104-60 in his five years with West Virginia before taking over at Michigan.
While leading the Wolverines for 12 years, Beilein posted a 278-150 record with nine winning seasons, three 30-win campaigns, two Big Ten Conference Tournament championships and nine NCAA Tournament appearances.
“John is one of the most accomplished and innovative basketball minds and leaders in the entire game,” Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman said. “He has a unique ability to create an outstanding culture that will promote the development of young players and provide a solid structure to the entire program; not to mention the fact that John Beilein wins everywhere he goes.”
Throughout his career, Beilein has never run from a challenge, and found ways to turn struggling teams into contenders in short order. He is very much looking forward to doing the same thing with the Cavaliers in the near future.
“I felt very strongly about this new and exciting opportunity with the Cavaliers,” Beilein said. “I am very thankful to Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman and honored to be the head coach of the Cavaliers. I love the position the team is in to build and grow and this was something I felt was the perfect fit for me.
“With hard work and dedication by all of us, we will grow this team day by day and reinforce a culture of success that sustains itself with strong core values. Cleveland is a great city with amazing fans and I am really looking forward to calling Cleveland home for years to come.”