Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
By: MIKE McCURRY
On Friday, Brad Underwood’s first season at Oklahoma State came to an end following a one-point loss against Michigan. As it turns out, so did his tenure in Stillwater.
Illinois has hired Underwood to replace John Groce as head coach, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, who reported Underwood will earn more than $3 million annually for six years.
“Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-lifetime opportunity,” Underwood said in an Illinois statement. “The players, fans and administration at Oklahoma State have been absolutely incredible, and I want to thank them for the support they’ve given me and my family over the last year. However, during my time at Western Illinois, I always saw the Illinois coaching job as one of the truly best in the nation.”
Per ESPN’s Andy Katz, Oklahoma State was blindsided by the news, which they learned about via Twitter like everyone else.
Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder issued a statement.
“We are saddened and disappointed in Brad’s decision to leave Oklahoma State after one year,” Holder said. “We are trying to digest this news.”
“We wish Brad and his family well. In the meantime, we will consider the situation and move forward.”
Illinois will be Underwood’s third school in three years. He coached at Stephen F. Austin for three seasons (2014-2016), leading the Lumberjacks to the NCAA Tournament in each of those, including wins as a 12-seed (over No. 5 VCU in 2014) and a 14-seed (over No. 3 West Virginia in 2016).
He then replaced Travis Ford at Oklahoma State, guiding the Cowboys—who have KenPom’s top-ranked offense in the country—to the Big Dance after a one-year absence.
Groce lasted five years at Illinois, failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons.
Add Oklahoma State to the list of major job openings across the country along with Indiana, California, Washington, and LSU.
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