Quick quotes: Illini AD Josh Whitman in his words

Notable quotes from new Illini athletic director Josh Whitman at his introductory press conference.

"We will win. It's important. That's what everybody is thirsty for. You don't get in this to come in second place."

"It will take a lot of time. This is not an overnight fix. But it starts today. It starts today."

"We need everybody. This is a movement...The bigger Illini nation grows, the more passionate we become, the better we can be."

"We need every Illini everywhere to get involved. We need them to support us. We want to bring renewed optimism and hope and energy to our fan base."

"It's critical that we all get aligned, that we all understand the vision that's in front of us and that we all start to row the boat because we want to get there."

"I think Coach Groce and Coach Cubit - both who are in the room and I appreciate their support. I had a chance to visit with them just briefly this morning. Really looking forward to having a chance to meet them and sit down with them more in-depth. I think they are tremendous coaches."

"My thanks to Barb (Wilson). This process has been remarkable from the beginning. I've certainly enjoyed getting to know Barb. I told anybody who would listen that my first order of duty - and everybody wanted to say what are you going to do first? Well, my first thing is that I'm going to try to convince Barb that she should stay in the chancellorship."

"A few personal thanks. I want to begin with my wonderful wife, Hope. My family is sitting over here standing along the wall. Hope is just a remarkable person. I'm excited for the Champaign community not to get really me, but to get her. She is a far better get for the Champaign-Urbana community...Our very first date was to the Braggin' Rights game. We went and watched Illinois beat Mizzou a year ago. We moved quickly. And shortly after that, I convinced her to come with me to Champaign. We had not been dating very long. But I thought it was important that she see this place that has meant so much to me."

"I remember very distinctly after my junior year, we won at Michigan. We came back from being down 27-7 in the third quarter. We beat Tom Brady and the Wolverines. They were good. The team ran over to the wall and we were hugging family members. My dad reached down and hugged me and said 'you just beat Michigan in the Big House'. It was just so special to me to be able to share that experience with him."

"I see in the back, Ron Guenther is sitting there. Ron is the reason I became an athletic director. When I first started understanding that this position even existed, I went and met with Ron and got a better sense of who he is and what he does. And that's what inspired me to get into this profession in the first place. He's remained a tremendous mentor and I'm very grateful to him."

"It's so humbling these last few hours, days - the outpouring of support that I have received from my former teammates. People who I've sweat with and bled with - the text messages, the phone calls, the emails - it's really been a powerful moment for me. I'm excited to represent them...It's an unbelievable responsibility and one that I take very seriously."

"I never knew when or even if this opportunity would present itself, but I knew that when it did - if it did - I wanted to be ready. I'm so happy and thrilled to be here. Humbled to be here. This is a dream for me. This is an opportunity for me to take the last job I hope I ever have. That's the kind of power that this place has for me and that's the kind of opportunity that this place presents."

"We want to change the lives of our student-athletes. We want to put their needs first and foremost. Everything we do, every decision we make will be informed by what is the best interest of our students. The reason we're here is them. We're here to teach them. We're here to grow them. We're here to prepare them for their lives after they leave campus."

"We will inspire and impassion the Illini nation. We have an incredible group of people who care about this place, about our athletic program. It is a tremendous opportunity for all of us to become involved in supporting this great opportunity that we have here. Our job is to rally that support - to give them something to be proud of. To continue to tell the good stories about the wonderful things that are happening here."

"We want to rally that support. We want people to take great pride in the Orange and Blue. We will do everything we can to generate that. I look forward to getting around the state, getting around the country, shaking a lot of hands, talking to a lot of people, listening to what people's concerns are and developing a program that we can all be proud of."

"We recognize that some of these situations have cast our university, our athletic program in a light that doesn't represent who we really are. And that I think is the biggest source of frustration and hope for me."

"This position is all about leadership...You have to develop trust with the people around you, and that takes time. You have to develop relationships. They have to understand that you are concerned about them, that you care about them."

"I don't shy away from difficult conversations. I think that honesty and directness are important. But you have to lay the groundwork with people."

"You want to show people incremental progress. You want to be able to say 'we're gonna do something', and then you do it...Over time, the wheel starts to turn. Eventually, you start to pick up momentum. People start to believe. People start to understand that this is going to get better."

"It is going to take some time to get to the place that we want it to be. But that doesn't mean it's going to take a long time for us to get started."

"I'm not the savior of Illinois athletics. I don't walk on water. I'm one piece of a very big and very committed group of people. If I can provide a spark, if I can provide some enthusiasm, if I can provide some vision and some leadership, and some other things that our group here is so thirsty for, then great."

"The chance that I had to come to the University of Illinois and to receive a scholarship was just an incredible, incredible privilege and a life-changing opportunity. And we give that opportunity to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of student-athletes every year."

"We're able to change someone's life through the value of a scholarship. I felt that. I know what that is. I look forward to continuing to provide that to our athletes."


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