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College Basketball Notes

Staff Report • Apr 3, 2007 at 9:45 AM

Champion Gators return home to rousing reception

Louisiana Tech fires coach

West Virginia's Beilein leaving for Michigan

• It was planned to be a meeting where John Beilein told his West Virginia players how to prepare for offseason workouts. Instead, he told them goodbye.

Beilein, who took the Mountaineers from mediocrity to two NCAA tournaments and an NIT championship, is moving on to Michigan.

"Sometimes good things come to an end," Beilein said during a news conference in Morgantown, W.Va. "It's time for me to do new things at a new university."

Beilein, 54, accepted Michigan's offer earlier in the day, and declined to reveal contract specifics. Michigan planned to introduce Beilein at a news conference today in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Wolverines fired coach Tommy Amaker in mid-March after six seasons without an NCAA appearance. The Wolverines went to the NIT three times in the past four years but haven't made the NCAAs since 1998.

"I am excited about this new opportunity at Michigan," Beilein said. "I wouldn't go there if I didn't think they could win a national championship."

Wherever he's coached, Beilein has been a success, taking teams without great talent to five NCAA tournaments and six NIT appearances in 29 seasons.

He went 104-60 at West Virginia, including 27-9 this year despite losing his top four scorers from a year ago.

Beilein's teams made deep runs in the NCAA tournament the previous two seasons and the Mountaineers beat Clemson 78-73 for the NIT title last week.

It will cost Michigan $2.5 million to buy out Beilein at West Virginia, plus perhaps about $1 million a season in a multiyear contract and $900,000 to Amaker for firing him without cause.

Champion Gators return home to rousing reception

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• GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida center Al Horford raised the NCAA trophy high above his head and greeted appreciative fans after the men's basketball team returned to Florida on Tuesday with its second championship trophy in a row.

Several hundred fans and fellow students, many wearing Florida orange and blue, waited nearly three hours in the heat at Gainesville Regional Airport, hoping to catch a glimpse of the team or get a high-five or an autograph.

"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you," Horford shouted as dozens of fans crowded around him.

Florida defeated Ohio State 84-75 in the men's basketball championship game in Atlanta on Monday night, setting off celebrations on the streets of Gainesville. It's the school's third national title in the past year, along with the football team's win in January, also over Ohio State. Florida remains the only program in history to hold both championships at the same time.

Also Tuesday, Generals Mills Inc. announced that Wheaties will issue a special edition cereal box commemorating the Gators basketball team. The box will be available nationwide in two to three weeks, the company said.

The box will feature the Gators logo, the team mascot and a photo of the basketball net being cut down after the title game.

Louisiana Tech fires coach

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• RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech announced Tuesday that it will not renew the contract of men's basketball coach Keith Richard.

"I am proud of my body of work over the whole nine years as head coach," Richard said. "I look forward to the future and wish everyone the best."

Richard compiled a record of 150 wins and 117 losses in his nine years as head coach and led the Bulldogs to the 1999 Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship. In the 2006-07 season, the Bulldogs finished 10-20 and lost in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

Richard first joined the Louisiana Tech staff as an assistant in 1994.

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