Division II coach with famous last name follows his father's unusual path
John Beilein's son wants to run his own program at Le Moyne rather than apprentice at Division I
by Gary Parrish
First LaVall Jordan got the Milwaukee job. Then Bacari Alexander left for Detroit. So two Michigan assistants were turned into head coaches in the same month, in a span of 15 days last April. And those developments opened a pair of spots on John Beilein's staff -- neither of which Patrick Beilein pursued or even wanted.
He's happy at Le Moyne.
That's the best way to put it.
So while you've been spending this season yelling about Grayson Allen's legs and Lonzo Ball's shooting form, Patrick Beilein has been winning games at the same place where his father once won. It's an interesting situation. His Dolphins are 18-5. They're headed for the postseason. And if this is an unconventional road to eventually becoming a Division I head coach, so be it. Because, if nothing else, it's the same path the elder Beilein took. And that's worked out OK.
"My dad told me our league [the Northeast-10 Conference] is comparable to the lower leagues in Division I," Patrick Beilein said. "He told me I'd learn so much with this opportunity while being a head coach. So I want to continue to grow this program and learn on my own."
There are many paths to becoming a Division I head coach.
The best, probably, involves establishing yourself as a respected Division I assistant for a winning program -- which is what Jordan and Alexander did at Michigan. But bouncing to college from the NBA also works -- as Alabama's Avery Johnson, Marshall's Dan D'Antoni and Tulane's Mike Dunleavy have recently shown.
Pat Beilein has selected a less-traveled path.
Yes, he has been a Division I assistant -- at Dartmouth and Bradley. And he's also worked in the NBA for the Utah Jazz. But when presented with the opportunity to run his own Division II program, he decided to do that -- first at West Virginia Wesleyan and now at Le Moyne. And if you're wondering what gave Beilein the confidence to choose this unusual course, you need only to check his father's Wikipedia page. Because when you do that you'll realize his father is a rarity: John Beilein is the only Division I head coach who has never been an assistant at any level.
He became what he became by running his own programs.
He coached Le Moyne from 1983-92.
So his advice to his son was simple when the choice was between being a Division I assistant, an NBA assistant or a Division II head coach. John told Patrick to be a Division II head coach -- to learn by running his own program, by being in charge, by literally following in his footsteps and leading the Dolphins. So that's what Patrick is doing ... at age 33. And he seems in no hurry to bounce considering his father didn't leave Le Moyne to become the head coach at Canisius until he was 39.
"And he's really moved up the ranks," Patrick said. "It took him time. He didn't leave Division II until the age of 39. So that helps me feel a little bit ahead of the curve."
Who knows when it will happen?
But it's safe to assume Patrick Beilein will continue walking his father's path and eventually end up as a Division I head coach, too. He has turned around Le Moyne in only his second season. That combined with his famous last name will undoubtedly create an opportunity, at some point, for the West Virginia graduate.
Which means the Beilein name will remain in college basketball long after John retires from Michigan. Patrick is carving out a career for himself. He's running a Division II program at a young age and running it really well.
Is it the normal path to coaching stardom?
But it already worked for one Beilein.
There's no obvious reason why it won't work again.