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Posted on Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

As Michigan hires LaVall Jordan as assistant basketball coach, Western Michigan accuses Michigan of 'tampering'

By Michael Rothstein

LaVall Jordan is the newest assistant coach with the Michigan basketball team. How he arrived in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, though, is a point of contention.

Jordan, previously an assistant coach at Iowa, was in the process of being named an assistant coach at Western Michigan earlier this week. When Mike Jackson left the Wolverines for Purdue on Monday, Michigan coach John Beilein contacted Broncos coach Steve Hawkins to inquire about Jordan.

Beilein said to Hawkins, “How about I call him and we let LaVall decide,” according to a report in the Kalamazoo Gazette.

To which Hawkins said he replied, “How about not.”

The Gazette reported Jordan told Hawkins he was leaving for Michigan on Monday.

It left Hawkins angry, and he told the newspaper that Michigan was "tampering."

“I don’t feel good about the way it was handled by the University of Michigan,” Hawkins told The Gazette. “Is it legal? Yes. Did it cross an ethical line? Yes, I think so. And I’m not happy about it.”

Jordan’s contract at WMU was never officially signed - the school was in the process of completing a background check. But Jordan met the Western Michigan players and his nameplate was on an office at the school’s basketball facility.

Jordan had been a finalist when Michigan hired Bacari Alexander from Western Michigan earlier this offseason.

“I am surprised by the reaction of Coach Hawkins because I thought we were on the same page,” Beilein said in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “Obviously, we have an unfortunate misunderstanding. I did contact coach Hawkins when I was informed of a potential staff vacancy here at Michigan. LaVall was a finalist for our previous open coaching position and was well thought of during that process.

“After the call to Steve, I stepped away to allow LaVall and coach Hawkins to discuss his future. LaVall contacted me after he reached an understanding with coach Hawkins. In the end, LaVall made a career choice for he and his family.”

Reached Wednesday evening, Western Michigan basketball spokesperson Matt Holmes said Hawkins would not comment further on the story, but that “coach Hawkins is standing by his comments made to the Kalamazoo Gazette. He’s moving on to fill positions here at Western Michigan.”

The Gazette spoke with Hawkins again after Beilein released his statement. Saying it would be his last statement on the matter, Hawkins stood by what he initially told the Gazette.

"I stand by my previous statements," Hawkins told the Gazette. "I don't think there was a miscommunication, and I think all parties involved on both staffs know exactly what happened."

In Jordan, Michigan gets an assistant with familiarity of Michigan and the Big Ten. Jordan spent three years at Iowa under Todd Lickliter and had previously worked at Butler with Lickliter.

“Returning to my home state, being closer to my family and working for Michigan is a tremendous honor,” Jordan said in a statement. “Having recruiting ties in the state of Michigan, the Midwest and across the country, I am looking forward to helping this staff bring in the right type of young man that will help this program become one of the best in the Big Ten and the nation.”

Born in Albion, he graduated from Butler in 2001 and started coaching there in 2003, overlapping one year with current Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer.

“He’s a very personable and charming guy,” Iowa Barnstormers AAU coach Jamie Johnson said about Jordan in April. “I know our guys are like ‘I can relate to him. He reminds me of somebody I went to school with or he reminds me of my friend’s older brother.’

“You just feel comfortable around the guy. He just relates to them well.”

Beilein indicated that Jordan would work primarily with the guards, which had been Jackson’s role before he left for Purdue.

“LaVall’s passion for skill development and deep understanding of guard play will undoubtedly benefit our backcourt players,” Beilein said in a statement. “I am especially pleased with his working and recruiting experience in the Big Ten and believe he will be a key component as we strengthen our program and recruiting efforts.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein



Thu, Jun 10, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Sure sounds like there are two snake oil salesmen at U of M now. Those ex WVU coaches sure have brought a lot of class to U of M....................yeah right


Thu, Jun 10, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

Aarox: The days of "chivalry" in major college sports are over in case you haven't noticed. The competition for top players and coaches is more intense than it's ever been. Programs HAVE to walk a fine line sometmes between being aggressive in going after someone AND "being a gentleman". Michigan didn't do anything illegal or even unethical here in my opinion. U-M has been too timid in some past situations that resulted in losing the chance to get a good coach. Besides, if WMU was too stupid to get him to sign a contract before introducing him to the players, setting up his office, etc., that's their fault.

Sean T.

Thu, Jun 10, 2010 : 12:16 a.m.

Actually, it wasn't a violation and any Big Ten School would've been better but it was a little under-handed if Hawkins and Beilein had spoken and Hawkins response was a definite "NO". But WM should've had him under contract and this would'nt be a story!


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 10:36 p.m.

UM tampering,thats a shock. Have fun with your 8 wins next year.


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 9:18 p.m.

sheesh. can my alma mater do anything on the up and up anymore. whether this is true or not, it seems that everything we do has mud on it these days.


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 9:14 p.m.

Shame on WMU for not having him under contract. If Michigan had interviewed him previously, I say all is fair in love and war. You can't blame the guy for going to the Big 10 and pocketing an extra 50K more a year. Hawkins needs to take a chill pill.

Marshall Applewhite

Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 9:02 p.m.

This is one of the silliest accusations I've heard in a while.