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Jeff Meyer: through his battle away from coaching, remained a staple for John Beilein

Through the challenges that Jeff Meyer has had to deal with when he wasn't on Michigan’s sideline, he was always there for the Michigan basketball program as a key piece to their puzzle over the last decade.

Photo credit: Patrick Barron, MGoBlog

It wouldn't be out of the norm to say that the Michigan basketball program has been through its share of ups and downs over the past decade.

From the seven (and soon to be eight) players to leave the Wolverines early to join the NBA, to the rise, then fall, and rise again of hoops in Ann Arbor, there has been a fair share of oddities and quirks.

Through it all, there was Jeff Meyer, a man who didn't ever question any of it as he sat along John Beilein’s bench for the past nine seasons.

Originally, Meyer was brought into the staff, after a stint with Indiana, as the director of basketball operations. He was soon promoted to an assistant coaching position.

Through all of the different kinds of changes that you could put in a file for Beilein since he was hired at Michigan, Meyer was a constant staple who helped hold the program together.

As of yesterday, that staple was finally pulled from that file.

Meyer is leaving Michigan to join former Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan’s staff at Butler, announced by the school on Tuesday.

For six of those nine seasons at Michigan, Meyer worked alongside Jordan, to go along with the 2003-04 season at Butler with Todd Lickliter’s coaching staff. That was a part of a three-year time period with Butler for Meyer.

Now entering his 39th year coaching basketball, the 63-year old man will reopen his tenure with the Bulldogs.

"Jeff has been a mentor to me for many years, and is a dear friend," Jordan said in a Butler press release. "He's been in this business for a long time and has had success at every stop, including 16 seasons as a head coach. Jeff appreciates what makes Butler special and brings a resume as a strong recruiter and developer of talent. Having him one seat down from me on the bench will have a profound impact on our program."

Jordan was hired at Butler just last week, following his one year stint as Milwaukee’s head coach.

NCAA Basketball: Horizon League Conference Tournament-Milwaukee vs Northern Kentucky Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Michigan lost Jordan and Bacari Alexander off their staff with a lot of veteran players on the roster and still made a run to the sweet sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.

Beilein hired former Wright State head coach Billy Donlon and former Oakland assistant Saddi Washington after Alexander and Jordan left.

As they now will lose Meyer, Beilein was thankful for the time they were able to have him on the staff.

"Jeff Meyer has been a huge part of our success in the nine years he has been with us," Beilein said in a university release. "It is not a coincidence that we won three Big Ten championships and went to seven NCAA Tournaments during that span. He and his wife, Karen, will be missed but not forgotten. We thank them for their dedication and hard work, and wish the Meyer family much success at Butler and beyond."

Of course, Meyer’s story isn't just played out on the court. It's much more than that.

Meyer has now mourned his mother, a brother, and two sisters during his tenure as Michigan’s assistant coach. The three siblings all died since 2013.

The most recent was his sister, Karen, to cancer this past preseason.

His sister, Denise, is the last one of his immediate family that is remaining.

“Change creates opportunity”, is something Meyer said of last season as he stuck it out with a younger staff. For someone to stay as positive as Meyer has through all of this, speaks volumes to his character.

It's more than most people deal with in a lifetime, and it's happened over a 4-year span for Meyer.

Yet, he never complained and just went under the radar at Michigan, a guy you never heard much from.

Coaching is what has kept him going over this period of his life.

"The kids give me energy," Meyer told mlive.com. "Guys like the Moe Wagners, the Derrick Waltons, the Zak Irvins -- they're great kids. As you long as I have great kids to come to work to every day, it's energizing and it's fun. You do the best you can to help those kids.

"When anxieties and stress come, you just go back to remembering why you do what you do. We've got a great group of kids that we recruited. We impact lives."

Now, Meyer is ready for his next opportunity.

"The stars really aligned on this opportunity," Meyer said. "LaVall is a trusted friend and a gifted basketball coach. I have great memories of our time at Butler and have continued to cheer for this program from afar. Personally, getting back to central Indiana also brings my wife and I closer to much of our family, and that was very important to us. I have tremendous energy and great passion to help LaVall put his stamp on Butler Basketball."

So while he may not be on that Michigan bench next season in the seat Beilein has looked down and seen him in for the past nine seasons, what he did at the program won't be forgotten.

He will just go back into that folder that he once helped staple together, but now, as a everlasting marking on Beilein’s story with the Michigan basketball program.