New Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman wasted little time going to work on his first official day on the job.
Early Saturday, he gave basketball coach John Groce a vote of confidence. Hours later, he shockingly dismissed Illini football coach Bill Cubit and his son, offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit.
Whitman will discuss the dismissal at a 3 p.m. CT press conference. In a press release, Whitman said he will name a new coach "as soon as possible."
“I appreciate the leadership that Bill Cubit provided our football program during what has been, unquestionably, a very tumultuous time,” Whitman said. “He accepted the challenge on an interim basis under incredibly difficult and unusual circumstances, and he has continued to work diligently for the betterment of our student-athletes. Through his efforts, he has kept the program moving forward. Bill is a good man and a good football coach. All of us in the Illini Nation owe him a debt of gratitude for his work leading our team these last months. At this juncture, however, I think it is most important that we position our program for long-term success by creating a more stable environment for the coaches, players, and prospective student-athletes.”
Sources told Illini Inquirer.com that Whitman told Cubit of his dismissal at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a shocker to the staff which included four staff members who just signed on at Illinois. The Illini also just signed a 23-member recruiting class.
Cubit was named interim coach on Aug. 23 following former athletics director Mike Thomas' dismissal of Tim Beckman during an investigation relating to injury reporting and student-athlete medical treatment. Cubit led Illinois to a 5-7 record in 2015, including 2-6 in the Big Ten, which tied for fifth place in the West Division. Cubit had the interim tag removed from his title on Nov. 29 when he was given a two-year contract by interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk -- who at the time called the deal "not ideal."
Whitman will meet players on Saturday. Illinois was scheduled to start spring practice on Friday but that has been delayed "until a new head coach is in place."
Bill Cubit will receive a payout of about $985,000 for the remainder of his contract., while Ryan Cubit will receive a payout of about $361,000.