UM men's basketball coach John Beilein discusses the FBI investigation involving college basketball coaches. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Michigan basketball coach John Beilein was dubbed the “cleanest” coach in college basketball last month, the results of a CBS Survey of more than 100 coaches.
This, of course, did not surprise anyone who is a fan of college basketball, but it now stands in marked contrast to FBI investigation findings laid out last week that have rocked the college basketball world. The FBI uncovered mass corruption, wire fraud and bribery involving some top programs in the sport.
Four assistant coaches from USC, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Auburn were charged with violations. No head coaches have been charged. Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, the first major coach to lose his job as a result of this scandal, is not named in the FBI complaint.
“I guess I was surprised because the FBI was involved with it,” Beilein said, sharing his initial reactions to the findings Wednesday at a news conference. “I think we all were. But with me, let it play out here. If the FBI is involved it really must be serious.
“And how isolated is it? I do not think it’s rampant among (the) NCAA. I don’t think the sky is falling in college basketball. I think there’s certainly some rogue coaches. How many? Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but I can’t believe there’s too much of that going on out there.”
Beilein jokingly was asked if he has been contacted by the FBI.
“They have not approached me yet,” Beilein said, smiling.
While he was pleased to be named “cleanest” coach in college basketball, he pointed out it was an “inexact poll.”
“It’s better than the alternative,” he said. “There’s a lot of really, really clean coaches out there. They must have caught me on a good day, they probably talked to all my assistants during that time.”
And then, for good measure: “I take a couple showers a day so that keeps me nice and clean.”
Beilein feels mostly positive about where college basketball is, but also is glad there is some scrutiny, as well.
“If the FBI is involved, if it was that serious, yeah,” he said. “This is something if the people are breaking laws and people are committing felony crimes in our business, then get them the heck out of our business if that’s what’s happening.
“Do I feel good about it, no, but you hate to (see) someone … because it affects their families, their coaching staffs, the university, the players that are there, it doesn’t make me happy. But at the same time, this is such a great game and college basketball is my life and it should be clean. This element should not be a part of it. If this is the necessary part to clean these things up, what I really think, I’m hoping it’s isolated. We’ll find out. We’ll wait.”
Asked if this could be a teaching moment for schools, Beilein said he learned a concept from former athletic director Dave Brandon that he has embraced. He said like practicing every day all season to face types of teams one might face in the postseason, conducting a clean program begins from the top and must be sustained every day.
“It’s the tone at the top. What is your tone at the top?” Beilein said. “If my tone every day is of an air of compliance, it’s like the year we played VCU in the NCAA Tournament. It was like, ‘How are you going to get ready in one day?’ We’ve been getting ready to play VCU since Day 1. We’re going to try to do all the right things that you’d see any day and then you’re prepared for a team.
“Same thing here. If you set a tone at the top and your assistant coaches set this tone and everybody lives this tone, you don’t have to change gears because there’s an investigation. We’ve been trying to do it right the whole time. I’m not trying to put ourselves up on some pedestals. Most programs are doing it this way.
“I believe that deep in my heart most of us are doing it but some, apparently, weren’t. So there’s not these major adjustments. You just keep doing what you’re doing. People, whether it’s parents or prospects, if they are looking for that, they’re not talking with me or we’re off their list immediately because they know it’s not happening here so we don’t even have to deal with it. It might not get us some recruits, well, we don’t want those recruits that come for any reason than what Michigan is all about.”
UM men's basketball coach John Beilein talks about the non-conference schedule. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News