A day after being eliminated by Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois has fired head basketball coach Bruce Weber. He will reportedly not coach the the team if it is selected to participate in the NIT or any other postseason tournament.
In his first two seasons in Champaign, Weber led Illinois to the 2005 national championship game and the 2004 Sweet 16. The Illini hasn't made it past the second round since, however, and after losing 12 of 14 games to end the regular season, will now miss the NCAA Tournament for the third time during the nine-year Weber-era.
With all due respect to Illinois' potential CBI run, attention in Champaign will now turn to Weber's replacement. ESPN's Andy Katz has already mentioned VCU coach Shaka Smart as a potential top target. U of I athletic director Mike Thomas was at Akron at the same time Smart was an assistant coach for the Zips. Other names that have been floated around include Kansas State's Frank Martin, Alabama's Anthony Grant and Duke assistant Chris Collins.
As for Weber, his next move could be a return to Southern Illinois, where he coached from 1998-2003 before replacing Bill Self at Illinois. SIU fired coach Chris Lowery after wrapping up an 8-23 season last week.
In nine seasons at Illinois, Weber amassed an overall record of 210-101 and an 89-66 mark in Big Ten play. He recently remarked that the buyout on his contract is $3.9 million.
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