Strike two for Illini AD Mike Thomas
According to the Chicago Tribune, Butler coach Brad Stevens has turned down Illinois’ offer to become its next head coach.
“I am happy and extremely grateful to be the head coach at Butler University,” said Stevens to the Tribune, “and I am already looking forward to next season and the start of our postseason workouts in April.”
After Shaka Smart turned down Illinois last week, reports stated that Illinois were pursuing Brad Stevens. Initial rumors suggested that Illinois was offering Stevens a similar contract to what they offered Smart, 8 years $21 million.
On Friday last week Twitter blew up from a report from Peegs.com, and Indiana Hoosier basketball website, that Illinois was going hard after Stevens. That was followed by everybody and their dog that claimed to have sources that Stevens was going to Illinois.
ESPN caught up with Stevens later that day and Stevens said of his supposed contact with Illinois, “If they have, I don’t know anything about it. Nobody has called me. Here’s how I spent my day — I had individual meetings, I went fishing and I was just drawing chalk on the driveway with my daughter. I came in with all this fishing gear on and my wife told me my phone was blowing up.” Fans and writers pointed out that he didn’t deny interest though, which gave some fans a glimmer of hope. But now that Stevens has officially turned down the job, that hope is diminished.
Illinois now turns to Ohio University coach John Groce for it’s coaching search. Groce lead the Bobcats to a Sweet Sixteen run this season, before losing the North Carolina and was an assistant under Thad Matta at Ohio State.