UPDATED: Josh Whitman chosen as new Illinois athletic director

Pending approval from Illinois’ board of Trustees, Josh Whitman will be the University’s 14th Athletic Director. Photo by Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos.

By Michal Dwojak and Peter Bailey-Wells

The day has have finally arrived. Whether it’s a day of reckoning or rejoicing, only time will tell.

The University confirmed Wednesday that Josh Whitman will be the next Illinois athletic director.

Reports about Whitman’s selection as the athletic director candidate began to surface around 6 p.m. Tuesday night. The News-Gazette was the first to break the story, after which more media outlets confirmed the news.

He had been the athletic director at Division III Washington University since 2014. He served as Wisconsin-La Crosse’s athletic director from 2011 to 2014.

Whitman played football at Illinois from 1997-2000 and lined up at tight end for Ron Turner. He spent four years in the NFL and returned to Illinois in 2005 to attend law school.

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Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson’s decision comes more than three months after she dismissed Mike Thomas, triggering the $2.5 million buyout in his contract.

Paul Kowalcyzk has served as the department’s interim athletic director since Thomas’ firing and if the Board of Trustees approves Whitman, he will take over March 21.

“People unfamiliar with Washington University may not understand what a wonderful and unique place this is,” Whitman said in a statement released by Washington University. “I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been associated with such a place.”

Follow The Daily Illini for up-to-the-minute news on the new Illinois athletics director.

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