36-year-old head coach coming over from Division II Le Moyne College
By David Yarger
Beilein is a popular basketball name around Western New York.
Billy Beilein has led the Niagara County Community College men’s basketball team to greatness, while John Beilein, who’s college head coaching career started at Canisius College, has taken the University of Michigan team to two National Championship games.
On Tuesday, one of Western New York’s D1 teams branched onto the Beilein family tree.
Niagara University introduced Patrick Beilein – John's son – as its 22nd men’s basketball coach in program history.
Patrick was introduced amongst a vast amount of students, faculty, players and fans on the Frank and Barbara Layden Court at the Gallagher Center.
Beilein joins the Purple Eagles after leading the Le Moyne Dolphins men’s basketball team from 2015-19. In his time as the Dolphins head coach, he was the Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year twice; Northeast-10 Conference Southwest Division champion three times; and was the Northeast-10 Conference tournament champion in 2018. Additionally, Beilein made three NCAA Division II regional appearance and was the 2018 NCAA East Regional champion.
During the 2017-18 season at Le Moyne, Beilein and his team won a program-record 27 games.
Off the court, Le Moyne had seven student-athletes selected to the Northeast-10 Conference All-Conference teams. Additionally, Le Moyne’s program averaged eight student-athletes named to the Northeast-10 academic honor roll per semester.
In his time as a player, Beilein starred for a West Virginia Mountaineers squad coached by his father. From 2002-06, he amassed 1,001 points and is third all-time in 3-pointers with 242.
On Tuesday, Beilein was joined by his mother, Kathleen, and father, as well as his wife and son, Kristen and 1-year-old Tommy.
During opening remarks, Niagara University President the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., told Beilein what Niagara University is all about.
“Patrick, you come to a university that has an excellent foundation. You come to a university that graduates now over 70-percent of its students. … You come to a university that has a 97-percent placement rate for those who graduate six months after they leave the university. … We welcome you, we welcome your family. We pledge to you our undivided support as our coach and a member of our community,” Maher said.
Niagara University Athletic Director Simon Gray said, “The word that is synonymous with Beilein in college basketball is winning. … Winning has continued at a rapid pace. But now it isn’t just John that is leading collegiate programs to high rates of success, it’s our coach, Patrick Beilein.”
Beilein was then formally introduced with a No. 22 Purple Eagles jersey.
He said he plans to instill core values learned from his father, and as a coach himself, to help change the culture of Niagara basketball.
“Off the court is just as important as what you do on the court. You can have all the Xs and Os, all the great plays, work hard on the court, but if you’re not doing things right off the court, that will translate to on the court,” Beilein said.
He introduced an acronym – UPAID – that will be instilled into the team.
“Unity, passion, appreciation, integrity and diligence,” Beilein said before he briefly described what each part of the acronym meant to him and his team.
“I’m extremely excited to be here. … I can promise you one thing: We are going to win at a very high level. We are gonna do it right away. We’re going to win championships. As you guys continue to come to games, you will see a team that is fun to watch; high IQ; will not turn the ball over. We will be fun. We’re going to guard. With all that, with the UPAID, our culture will hang a lot of banners going forward,” Beilein said.
Beilein, who went to Starpoint schools for grade school, said the key factors in taking the NU job were evident as soon as he reached campus.
“As soon as I met Father Maher and Athletic Director Simon Gray ... immediately they blew me away with their vision of athletics, but also the institution and the university. That was extremely impressive to me and kind of what sold me in the end. My dad told me a long time ago, ‘It’s who you work for,’ and I couldn’t be happier to be here and work for this administration,” Beilein said.
John Beilein shared how his love of Niagara basketball dated back to when he came to a game in seventh grade. He said of his son taking the Purple Eagles job, it's “a dream come true for our family and, obviously, Patrick.”
Patrick added that, even though his father was a little busy with the NCAA Tournament the past couple weeks, John still found time to give his son proper advice.
“Coach your team one day at a time,” the younger Beilein said. “I’ve kind of embraced the pressure; I enjoy it. I lived it as a player being a coach's son (having) to prove yourself. That pressure kind of gets me going. It’s kind of my engine and I won’t back down from it.”
John Beilein, who once coached Newfane High School, said, “I really thought this was a no-brainer for him and for the university, but they had to decide that. I was just keeping my fingers crossed that he could do this, because I love Niagara University, I love the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), I love the level of play that’s here. I think it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
He also shared a laugh about the possibility of coaching against his son down the line in a possible Niagara versus Michigan battle.
“It might happen next year, who knows? I played him one time and I didn’t like anything about it – playing against your son. But if it could help Niagara and it helps us get better, then why not? We’ll see if it happens in the years to come,” John Beilein said.
His son said he was amazed at the turnout at the Gallagher Center. Beilein had a message for the student section, known as the “N-Zone,” which hasn’t had a lot to cheer about in recent years.
“It was nice. We should’ve pulled out the other side and maybe filled them all up,” he said with a laugh. “It’s exciting. I have no doubt we can get there and this place will be jumping again. … That’s a huge piece. Obviously, you have to win; winning brings students. I think, as we continue to build, it won’t be filled right away, but we will build a program that kids enjoy coming to watch. I want the student-athletes and the students on campus to enjoy our student-athletes in the men’s basketball program and really get to know them. They’re not (going to be) walking around campus with their hoods on, they’re not talking to anybody; they’re going to engage in the community, and that goes on to campus, and I think that will bring out students.”
The Purple Eagles finished the 2018-19 season with a 13-19 record. Niagara’s last NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2006-07.
For more information on the team, visit https://purpleeagles.com/index.aspx?path=mbball.
Patrick Beilein waves to the audience inside the Gallagher Center upon arrival.
From left, Kathleen Beilein, John Beilein, Niagara University President Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., and Patrick Beilein.
Niagara University Athletic Director Simon Gray.
Patrick Beilein addresses the audience as the new Niagara University men's basketball coach.
Patrick Beilein and his wife, Kristen, pose with the No. 22 Beilein jersey.
From left, NU President Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Kristen Beilein, Patrick Beilein and NU Athletic Directior Simon Gray.
Patrick Beilein stand beside Niagara University Athletic Director Simon Gray after being introduced.
From left, Niagara University President Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.; Kristen Beilein; one-year-old Tommy Beilein with his festive Monte the Eagle toy; Patrick Beilein; John Beilein; Kathleen Beilein and NU Athletic Director Simon Gray.