Mar 14, 2012; Portland, OR, USA : Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart listens to a question during a press conference before the first round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
Shaka Smart has turned down an offer to become the new head coach at Illinois, and will remain at VCU.
VCU basketball coach Shaka Smart has turned down an offer from Illinois and will stay with the Rams, this according to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.
Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Smart turned down a deal from Illinois worth at least $2.5 million.
Illinois is looking to replace Bruce Weber, whom the school fired on March 9 after nine seasons at the helm of the program. In his first two seasons in Champaign, Weber led Illinois to the 2005 national championship game and the 2004 Sweet 16, but did not make it past the second round after that.
Smart, who rose to national prominence after leading VCU on a miracle run to the Final Four in 2011, was the first name to emerge as Weber's potential replacement. He took the Rams back to the NCAA Tournament this season, where they upset Wichita State in the round of 64 before dropping a narrow contest to No. 4 seed Indiana.
Multiple media members are reporting that Illinois will likely now turn its attention to Alabama coach Anthony Grant, Smart's predecessor at VCU. Many believe Illini athletic director Mike Thomas is under pressure to hire a minority coach since Illinois is one just of three Big Ten schools that have never had a minority head coach in men's basketball or football.
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