Illinois athletic director search expected to continue into late January

Already two months old, search for new Illini athletic director expected to continue into late January

Illinois will not come to an agreement with or announce an athletic director hire on Monday, an athletic department spokesman told, meaning that the impending hire will not be eligible for approval at the Jan. 21 University of Illinois Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.

The process is expected to continue into late January/early February, though the search is no operating on a specific set deadline.

University policy requires that contract approval be publicly posted on the Board of Trustees meeting agenda 10 days prior to the meeting. Illinois can still publicly announce a hire with the stipulation that it is "pending board approval" at their next meeting. The next scheduled meeting after Jan. 21 is set for March 16 in Urbana.

Typically, the board is involved late in the process when the candidates are whittled down to the finalists, so the 13 members (11 of which have votes) will be able to give their input then.

Last month, Illinois hired search firm Korn Ferry Executive Search -- breaking away from Parker Executive Search, which had aided in the hires of former athletic director Mike Thomas and dismissed football coach Tim Beckman -- to aid an appointed eight-person search committee in the process. The search firm acts as an intermediary between the university and the candidates, which has severely decreased the amount of leaks and chatter about candidates.

Typically, the committee and search firm pick a pool of three to five finalists to meet or talk with the university chancellor and president before negotiating a contract with their top candidate(s).

Illinois fired Thomas on Nov. 9, the same day the final investigative report into football program abuses (which led Thomas to fire Beckman a week before the season). Thomas was found to have no fault in the abuses, and Illinois paid him a $2.5 million buyout.

Interim chancellor Barbara Wilson said then that Thomas had done a "good job" but that it was "time to put the distraction of the past few months behind us and focus on success of student-athletes."

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