Tim Banks out as Illini defensive coordinator; Mike Phair takes over

Illinois now has two more coaching vacancies to fill

Illinois head football coach Bill Cubit confirmed a Sports Illustrated report that co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks is leaving the program to "pursue other opportunities." Co-defensive coordinator Mike Phair, who joined the program last season, will take over as defensive coordinator, Cubit said on Friday morning.

Banks, who had spent the last four seasons as the Illinois defensive coordinator, is the fourth Illinois assistant to leave the program since the end of the season and Cubit's two-year extension. Tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Alex Golesh left to join Matt Campbell's staff at Iowa State, and offensive line coach Tom Brattan and linebackers coach Mike Ward were not retained.

Banks was the last remaining member of Tim Beckman's original staff at Illinois. He and Cubit met on Wednesday evening to discuss the direction of the defense and after contemplation, Banks decided to look elsewhere.

Cubit took over as interim coach last August when Beckman was dismissed a week before the season due to preliminary findings of an investigation into player abuse. Athletic director Mike Thomas was fired in November when the entire report, damning to Beckman, was released.

Illinois still has two coaching vacancies to fill -- both on defense.

"We have guys in mind," Cubit said.

Cubit on Friday officially announced the hirings of A.J. Ricker as offensive line coach Jeff Hecklinski as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. He also announced quarterbacks coach Ryan Cubit will take on the title of offensive coordinator and that Nathan Scheelhaase will remain on staff as the permanent running backs coach 

“I’m extremely happy to add Jeff and A.J. to our staff, while making Nathan a permanent coach,” Cubit said in a statement. “Nathan did a fantastic job this past season after moving over from an administrative position when the head coaching position change was made. He has everything you look for in a coach in the way he communicates with players and recruits, the love he has for this school and the energy and enthusiasm he brings every day.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have A.J. as a part of my coaching staff for several years,” Cubit continued. “He has experience and knowledge of this offense, and will be able to fit right back in here immediately.

“Jeff has earned the reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation while working at Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan, and I’m excited he brings that experience here to Illinois,” Cubit said. “He started his playing career here at Illinois, and I know he is looking forward to returning home to his native state.”This story is developing...

Current Illini staff

Head coach: Bill Cubit

Offensive coordinator/QB coach: Ryan Cubit

Defensive coordinator: Mike Phair

Running backs coach: Nathan Scheelhaase

Wide receivers coach: Mike Bellamy

Tight ends coach/special teams coach: Jeff Hecklinski

Offensive line coach: A.J. Ricker

Outside linebackers coach: Al Seamonson

8th assistant spot: n/a

9th assistant spot: n/a


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