According to reports from the Decatur Herald and Review and the Chicago Tribune, Illinois is down to two final candidates for its athletics director vacancy: Florida Atlantic athletics director Patrick Chun and Division III Washington University athletics director Josh Whitman.
Whitman, 37, is a former Illinois football player who also graduated from the UI College of Law. Whitman has served as Washington's AD for about two years.
He previously served as the athletics director at Division III Wisconsin-La Crosse. In his time at UW-LaCrosse, the Eagles won four national titles and 21 conference titles. Whitman increased the operating budget there, which helped Whitman renovate many of the facilities. Prior to heading to La Crosse, Whitman was a practicing lawyer for the sports pracitce Cobington & Burling, which served as primary counsel to the NFL. Whitman worked in the Illinois athletic department from 2005-08, serving as both assistant to the athletic director and coordinator of special projects.
Whitman played four seasons of professional football, serving stints with the Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills and NFL Europe's Frankfurt Galaxy. At Illinois, Whitman was a four-year starting tight end from 1997-2000 and also earned Bronze Tablet honors as a student, meaning he finished among the top three percent of his graduating class.
Chun, 40, has been athletics director at Florida Atlantic since July 2012. He spent the previous 15 years at Ohio State, his alma mater, working from a student worker to Executive Associate Athletics Director for External Relations from 2009-2012. His main role was fund-raising, and Ohio State increased revenue by 20 percent in each year he was there. Chun currently serves on the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee.
At FAU, Chun oversaw the resignation of head football coach Carl Pelini, whom Chun inherited. Pelini resigned amid allegations of cocaine and marijuana use but denied the allegations. Pelini said Chun made the move so he could hire his own coach. Chun hired Charlie Partridge, who is 6-18 overall and 5-11 in Conference USA play.
Chun also fired the basketball coach he inherited, Mike Jarvis. He hired former NBA player Michael Curry, who is 16-39 overall and 7-24 during conference play.
llinois dismissed athletic director Mike Thomas on Nov. 9 following a rocky tenure that included too few wins by his hires (just one NCAA Tournament appearance in men's basketball and one bowl game in football) and too many off-the-field embarrassments, including investigations into the football (for medical misconduct and abuse, which resulted in the firing of head football coach Tim Beckman) and women's basketball programs (for abuse and alleged racism, though the allegations by former players were deemed unfounded).