CHICAGO - Illinois interim athletic director Paul Kowalczyk explained the decision by the University of Illinois to extend interim coach Bill Cubit with a two-year contract, even if Kowalczyk wasn't the only one making the decision.
"That's kind of the key word here: there were a lot of calls," Kowalczyk said. "But there was communication up and down the organization.
"Obviously, the university is in the situation with interim tags on a lot of people," Kowalczyk said. "The feeling is that it'd be best for a permanent AD to make a decision that they can live with, somebody of their choosing, whether that be Bill or somebody else. That position right now is important to fill. Right now, this will get us to where we need to be in order to make that decision."
Kowalczyk said he met with Cubit this morning in Chicago "kind of on the fly" to discuss and agree to the deal.
"I think Bill is eminently qualified," Kowalczyk said. "Obviously, he's been a head coach. He knows what has to be done to run an organization like this and a program like this. Some folks aren't ready for that move. But Bill knows you have to be a CEO, you can't just be coach. There's a lot of moving parts to being a head football coach, and he handles those very well."
Critics of the deal say Cubit will struggle to recruit with just a two-year deal, which will play him $1.2 million each season (with a buyout provision) but doesn't look like more than a one-year deal.
"Obviously, it's not ideal but for now, I don't think it'll put a dagger in the heart of the program," Kowalczyk said. "The program's too strong. Bill's recruited. There's not going to be any stoppage in what he's doing, in what he's trying to accomplish. We'll just try to keep things moving in a positive direction."
Kowalczyk is only the temporary leader of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. He was appointed to the position following Mike Thomas' dismissal earlier this month. The university will now look to hire a permanent athletic director, though it hadn't hired a search firm or formed a search committee as of Saturday.
Kowalczyk said the university had discussions of having him lead the coaching search as an interim athletic director. As Southern Illinois athletic director, he hired Jerry Kill as football coach. As Colorado State athletic director, he hired Tim Miles, now the basketball coach at Nebraska.
"Everything was on the table originally," Kowalczyk said. "But the bottom line is trying to keep some contunity, trying to keep some consistency in the program and the kids are clearly behind Bill and supportive of that decision. That was the over-riding factor, I think, in that decision.
"The University of Illinois is about processes, so we had to go through the process to get to this spot. We're happy to be here today."
"It's not ideal but for now, I don't think it'll put a dagger in the heart of the program. The program's too strong. Bill's recruited. There's not going to be any stoppage in what he's doing, in what he's trying to accomplish. We'll just try