Kowalczyk wants to make Cubit decision by Sunday

Illini interim athletic director said he will make a quick decision on future of interim coach Bill Cubit

CHAMPAIGN - Illinois interim athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said he wants to have a decision on the future of Illini interim football coach Bill Cubit within 24 hours of the end of the football season, Kowalczyk said Wednesday afternoon on WSJK-FM's "Tay and J Show" in Champaign.

"In my mind we need to make that call and figure out which way we're going for everybody's sake," Kowalczyk said. "To me, it's posthaste. Absolutely."

Cubit, the Illini offensive coordinator the two previous seasons, took over for Tim Beckman, who was dismissed a week prior to the season for medical misconduct and player abuse. The Illini (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) have lost five of six and need to beat Northwestern on Saturday to earn bowl eligibility.

Will that game have an effect on the decision, if it's Kowalczyk's to make?

"There's a body of work there, let's put it that way," Kowalczyk said. "The evaluation is based on that body of work. I don't know if one game here or there matters as much. It's the whole body of work. Obviously, we'll know more Saturday."

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that Illinois is exploring a two-year offer for Cubit.

Minnesota interim athletic director Beth Goetz gave a three-year contract extension to interim coach Tracy Claeys, who took over the Gophers program following Jerry Kill's resignation due to health reasons. Kowalczyk, who hired Kill as the athletic director at Southern Illinois in 2001, appluaded the move.

"They have a program that's going in the right direction," Kowalczyk said. "When you're having that kind of success, to promote from within is usually a good idea for continuity and recruiting and all those good things."

Is the situation at Minnesota -- interim athletic director with an interim coach, entering a crowded coach market -- compare similarly to Illinois?

"That's a program that's been on the upswing and heading in the right direction," Kowalczyk said. "We're still trying to figure out who we are at this point. I think there's a difference between those two programs at this point."

Kowalczyk and Cubit, who went 36-27 in the MAC over eight seasons at Western Michigan before getting dismissed after the 2012 season, have met during the past few weeks to discuss the team, recruiting and day-to-day operations.

"It's nothing out of the ordinary," Kowalczyk said. "Not avoiding the elephant in the room as well. I just tell Bill to hang in there and again repeating to him I much I respect and appreciate what he's done with this team this year and the staff and the kids. It's impressive. He deserves a lot of credit. These are very much trying circumstances."

Kowalczyk said he stays in communication with interim chancellor Barbara Wilson mostly through her chief of staff to talk about the bigger issues. 

"Of course, they're critical to the direction of the program and what's going on," Kowalczyk said. "I'm not making a football coaching decision without working with the chancellor's office on that, not under these circumstances, anyway. Ordinarily, that might be different. It wouldn't call for that."

If Illinois moves forward without Cubit, Kowalczyk said finding candidates should not be an issue, even if he -- an interim athletic director -- is leading the search.

"There's a power here. There's a force here," Kowalczyk said. "It's a Big Ten job. To me, that should be a destination job."

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