As Michigan hires LaVall Jordan as assistant basketball coach, Western Michigan accuses Michigan of 'tampering'
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, wasÂ 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.
“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.”