ESPN analyst Bilas: Underwood 'a great hire'

ESPN analyst Bilas: Underwood 'a great hire'

CHAMPAIGN — Jay Bilas doesn’t have a problem with Brad Underwood.

“He’s a great coach, and he’s a great hire,” the ESPN analyst told The News-Gazette on Saturday evening. “Illinois got themselves a really good basketball coach.”

But what the former Duke player, who has been outspoken in the past about the NCAA and its treatment of student-athletes, did have a problem with in light of Illinois hiring Underwood on Saturday afternoon is college administrators. And the fact Underwood left Oklahoma State after only one season in charge of the Cowboys.

“I don’t fault Brad,” Bilas said. “I fault the president who hired him. I really don’t care to hear presidents talk about the integrity of college sports and the welfare of the student-athletes when we sit and lament players leaving and transferring, but everyone stands silent when a coach does it. It’s just an odd feeling.”

Underwood will receive a six-year contract at Illinois and get paid more than $3 million per season.

“I get it,” Bilas said. “I like money just as much as the next guy, but quit telling me and everyone else about student-athlete welfare. The last person considered in all of this is the student-athlete.”

Bilas would not only like to see college athletes more fairly compensated, but also take off any restrictions that come about when a player transfers from a program.

“Everyone else gets to leave whenever they feel like it,” Bilas said. “The only person that is limited in the amount of money they can earn or accept is the athletes. They claim they care about the athletes, but it’s a big lie. This is exhibit A of proving that lie.”

On a basketball front, Bilas thinks Underwood will succeed at Illinois.

“This hire is a home run,” Bilas said. “I have no issues with him personally or professionally. He’s a fabulous coach and a great guy, but I’m not suggesting that Brad doesn’t have questions to answer because he does. I don’t know when he was out recruiting for Oklahoma State if he mentioned the possibility to recruits of him leaving.”

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cowpie needs a hobby wrote on March 20, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Bilas is a smart guy with some interesting, generally well thought out opinions, but his holier and smarter than thou act has become tiresome.He cashes his ESPN paychecks one assumes, so he is part of the problem he so angrily rails against.