B1G Media Days: Illini AD Josh Whitman

Illini AD Josh Whitman discusses Lovie Smith, possible facilities improvements, DIA staff changes and a big summer for Illini basketball

On changes in culture and positivity in football program:

Josh Whitman: "It's really been exciting. I think that's certainly been the message for our fans and for our alumni across the state and across the country and around the world. This is a new era for our athletic program. We want them to be positive, and we want them to be positive and talk about this 'We Will Win' idea. I talk about how the important word in that three-word phrase is 'will.' I think that implies a level expectation that we are done hoping. We're done aspiring. We're done wanting. We're in a phase now where we want to start doing. I think our fans have been very receptive to that. It's been a very exciting few months for the football program. I think it will continue to build."

On where he's at in his evaluation of the program and what it needs:

Whitman: "I think the timing has worked out well coming on when I did in the spring. It gave us a chance to get through some of those on-boarding things quickly in the spring. Then you get to the summer and have a chance to pick your head up and look down the road a bit and prepare for what's to come. We're getting our staff in a great spot. I really feel good about the senior leadership that we've been able to put together in our program.


"We're continuing to evaluate some of our other needs, our physical plant. I hope we'll be in the position in the relatively near future to make some announcements about that and what our priorities will be and how we plan to approach some of the funding and the fund-raising campaign to get some of those projects launched. A lot to do, but I feel good about where we've been able to go these first five months and feel like we're well-positioned as we head into the new year."

On feeling of the start of the football season:

Whitman: "It's great. It really is. It's funny. I was here at the kickoff luncheon as a player. I think it was 1999. It's fun to be back here in this role. I'm very much looking forward to the first football game. That will be a very special experience for me. A chance to go out there in the stadium and be in this capacity with the university and with the athletic program when the guys are on the football field for the first time will be a surreal and I think very humbling experience."

On what he wants to see on the field this fall:

Whitman: "To me, it's about playing the game the way we all know it needs to be played -- going out and being competitive, playing with a fire, being excited on the field and seeing our guys enjoy what they're doing. Football's a game that's meant to be enjoyed and go out there on Saturdays and play with reckless abandon and enjoy each other. It's such an intense experience. Football is so intense for the other 300 and some odd days when you're training and it's hot and you're together. You get a chance on those 12 Saturdays to go out there and do with your teammates something that you've been preparing for just an incredible number of hours, so I just want them to go out there and have a good time and compete hard, represent our university and make us all feel proud. I now they'll do that."

On how much wins and losses matter this fall:

Whitman: "It's about progress. It's about culture. It's about seeing that fire within our guys. I've got tremendous expectation and confidence that we'll see that from the first kick."

On momentum for Illini basketball:

Whitman: "It's been a great summer for basketball. We're really heading in the right direction. We certainly have a lot of things to be excited about these last few weeks and months. We're hopeful and optimistic that will continue to build upon itself and start to gain a little momentum there as well. We're looking forward to opening the (State Farm) Center later this fall. I think it's just an unbelievable venue for our fans to enjoy. A lot of good things are happening around that program too."

On if he'll make anymore changes in DIA leadership staff:

Whitman: "No, we're pretty well finished up. We got a couple vacancies to fill yet, but in terms of  shuffling folks around, I think we've pretty much reached the end of that. I thought it was important to get that group in place before we get into the new year. We want everybody to know what their roles will be heading into the new season. It's a great group, and I'm really excited to work with them as we settle into this thing."

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