March 18, 2017

Brad Underwood takes over Illinois basketball program

A little more than an hour ago, University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman announced his replacement for head basketball coach John Groce. The Illini Nation will now welcome former Oklahoma State head Brad Underwood back to another coaching position in the Land of Lincoln, this time a 150 or so miles east of his last stint in the state and as the leader of Fighting Illini basketball program.

Underwood was an assistant with Western Illinois University's Jim Kerwin in Macomb for 10 years from 1993-2003.

Ten years after leaving the Leathernecks, Underwood was hired as head coach of Stephen F. Austin in April of 2013. In his debut season as a head coach he captured the Southland Conference regular season championship with perfect 18-0 record in conference play.

Coaching in his one and only one season with the Cowboys, the 53 year-old left the program with a 20-13 record with his team finishing in fifth-place in the conference standings. OSU exited the postseason NCAA tournament after a 92-91 loss to the Michigan Wolverines.

"Brad's teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness. They have a tremendous energy that I believe will ignite the Orange Krush and our fans to once again make State Farm Center one of the most intimidating venues in all of college basketball," said Whitman in a statement released on "Off the court, Brad builds strong, personal relationships with his student-athletes. His winning combination of strong Midwest values and tenacious work ethic are a perfect fit for our community and the Illini Nation."

Whitman will reportedly pay Oklahoma State's buyout fee of $3 million to secure his newest coaching hire's release from a five-year, $6.3 million deal. Underwood is expected to more than double his salary with at $3 million a year contract with Illinois.

Underwood, who will go from wearing orange and black to orange and blue, will face several challenges including in-state recruiting and satisfying fans hungry for more W's against ranked opponents than Groce could manufacture in his quest to put Illinois back on the national hoops limelight.

Groce was let go after producing dismal 95-75 record in his five tremulous seasons on March 11.

Despite the rocky road that lies ahead, Underwood is anxious to get the work on his tenure.

"Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-lifetime opportunity," Underwood said. "I want to thank Josh Whitman for the opportunity to join the Fighting Illini family and look forward to working with him to build a championship program. I can't wait to get started with our team. Next season can't get here fast enough for me!"

Underwood will officially be introduced as the head coach this coming Monday at the State Farm Center.

Underwood Coaching Experience

2016-17 - Head Coach, Oklahoma State University
2013-16 - Head Coach, Stephen F. Austin State University
2012-13 - Associate Head Coach, University of South Carolina
2011-12 - Associate Head Coach, Kansas State University
2007-11 - Assistant Coach, Kansas State University
2006-07 - Director of Operations, Kansas State University
2003-06 - Head Coach, Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College
1992-2003 - Assistant Coach, Western Illinois University
1988-92 - Head Coach, Dodge City (Kan.) Community College
1986-87 - Graduate Assistant, Hardin-Simmons University

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