Beilein's sudden departure from Michigan similar to Williams' retirement at Maryland in 2011

Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Basketball

Gary Williams was getting ready to play in Johnny Holliday's charity golf tournament Monday when he heard about John Beilein's stunning announcement that after 12 seasons at Michigan, he was leaving to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The news surprised many who follow both college basketball and the NBA, and brought back memories for Williams and Maryland fans of his decision to suddenly retire after 22 seasons in College Park in the first week of May 2011.

Given the current climate surrounding college basketball, Williams wasn't shocked.

"John was one of those guys, if you talk with him a little bit, he's a college coach," Williams said. "In John's mind, what went on in the last couple of years -- the FBI trial, players leaving early, not sure of what your team is going to look like next year -- you start to wonder about that. I know myself, all you want is a level playing field as a coach.

"You're going to try to get every advantage you can. ... That went into my thinking (to retire). I wasn't sure there was a level playing field out there anymore. And that was eight years ago. I can't speak for John Beilein. I'm sure all those things went through his mind. Whatever went into his decision, I don't know -- maybe he just wanted to be a pro coach."

Aside from being the exact same age (66) when they made the decision to leave a program they had helped resurrect, there are a number of similarities between Williams and Beilein.

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Both began as high school coaches.

Both went to two Final Fours as college coaches.

Both won nearly the same percent of games in their most high-profile job.

And both were known not only as terrific bench coaches whose ability to make in-game adjustments led to their teams' success but for playing by the rules that many of their colleagues either broke or bent.


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