UI tasks search committee with finding new athletic director

By Charlotte Carroll

Illinois has a search committee for a new athletic director.

Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced in a press release Friday the eight people that will aid in the search for a replacement for interim athletic director Paul Kowalcyzk, who has been on the job for a little more than three weeks as Illinois’ interim athletic director.

Matt Wheeler, an animal sciences professor and football team faculty athletic representative is the committee’s chair. Other members of the committee are Mike Bass, a university administration employee, Illinois alumnus and a former Illini football player, Keiko Price, the associate athletic director for academic services; head soccer coach Janet Rayfield; Howard Milton, the associate director of athletics for advancement; Richard Stockton, an attorney, Illinois alumnus and a member of the athletics board; Judge Dan Flannell, an Illinois alumnus and chief judge in the Illinois Sixth Judicial Circuit Court­; and Nicole Evans, a junior softball player.

“We’re looking for an athletic director with the vision and the skills to enhance the elements that are strong already,” Wilson said. “To rebuild where needed, and to restore the athletics program to a position of pride for Illini Nation across the board.”

Wilson has not yet decided whether to hire a search firm to help the committee with the process.

A number of names for Illinois’ Athletic Director position have been swirling since Thomas was first fired.

One of the most talked about was Colorado Athletic Director Rick George, who played as a cornerback and graduated from the University in 1982. But George has said he would decline the positon if offered. 

Former Illinois wide receiver Shawn Wax is also among the suspected candidates. He was the senior associate athletic director at the University for almost 16 years before leaving to work in private fundraising at Iowa in 2010. Many thought he’d be named the replacement athletic director when longtime athletic director Ron Guenther retired from Illinois in 2011.

Kowalczyk has been with Illinois since 2012. He previously served as director of athletics at Colorado State University and Southern Illinois University.

He was previously earning $140,595 as senior associate athletic director and his salary was increased to $295,000 in his new position.

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