Brad Underwood’s tenure as Oklahoma State men’s basketball coach apparently is going to last all of one season. Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman posted this photo to Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) March 18, 2017
Oklahoma State hired Underwood away from Stephen F. Austin in March of last year after he led the Lumberjacks to three consecutive NCAA tournament bids, twice scoring first-round upsets as a double-digit seed. This season, the offensive-minded Cowboys went 20-13 and lost to Michigan on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Brad Underwood took the Cowboys to 6th in the country in scoring this season. They were 303rd before he arrived. https://t.co/DamG7GYxNM
— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 18, 2017
Underwood, 53, was scheduled to make $6.3 million over five seasons at Oklahoma State, with $3.3 million of it paid out over the first three years of his contract ($1 million this season, $1.1 million next season and $1.2 in 2018-19). At $1 million this season, Underwood was the lowest-paid coach in the Big 12, and ESPN’s Jeff Goodman says he will make more than double that at Illinois. According to the Tulsa World, Underwood will owe Oklahoma State $3 million because he is leaving for a non-Big 12 job before March 31, 2018.
According to Goodman, Underwood had a strained relationship with Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder.
Illinois fired John Groce last week after five seasons and just one NCAA tournament, in his first season in Champaign. Underwood is familiar with the area after spending 10 seasons as an assistant at Western Illinois, which is about a 2½-hours drive from the Illinois campus.
“I am excited to welcome Brad Underwood, his wife Susan, and their three children to the Fighting Illini family,” Whitman said in a statement. “In searching for a new coach, we were looking for a proven winner who would build upon our proud tradition while developing an unmistakable identity for Illinois Basketball. Brad’s teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness. They have a tremendous energy that I believe will ignite the Orange Krush and our fans to once again make State Farm Center one of the most intimidating venues in all of college basketball. Off the court, Brad builds strong, personal relationships with his student-athletes. His winning combination of strong Midwest values and tenacious work ethic are a perfect fit for our community and the Illini Nation.”
As for who will take the Oklahoma State opening, apparently you shouldn’t be sleeping on Doug Gottlieb, who played for the Cowboys before beginning his career as a broadcaster.