AD asked for waiver on Saturday
Officially, the University of Illinois athletic director wasn’t going to hire a coach until Monday.
Until he did.
The one-week search that Josh Whitman launched March 13 ended early when he hired Oklahoma State’s first-year head coach, Brad Underwood, on Saturday.
The job posting had said that no selection would be made until the one-week search closed on March 20. Officials said Whitman had not requested a waiver from normal search procedures as he did last year for Lovie Smith.
But the athletic director talked with campus officials a few days ago and said he might need to request a waiver over the weekend, said athletic department spokesman Kent Brown.
With the NCAA tournament under way, Whitman “knew coaches he was interested in might become available,” he said.
Once Whitman decided Underwood was going to be the next coach, he asked for a formal waiver on Saturday, Brown said.
“If Brad’s team had won yesterday, they’d be playing tomorrow, and we’d be sitting here with no coach,” Brown said.
Both the chancellor’s office and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access signed off on the waiver Saturday, Brown said.
“What that tells you is that there weren’t any formal offers to any other coaches before” Saturday, Brown said, adding that earlier reports to the contrary weren’t accurate.
“This is the world we live in,” he said. “There’s so much misinformation that it’s incredible.”
Brown and others involved in coaching searches say agents often float their clients’ names for openings to boost their profiles or bargain for raises.
Brown said Underwood agreed to a six-year contract and that the contract will pay more than $3 million per season.