Thomas still searching for University’s new head coach

Seventeen days have passed since Illinois basketball head coach Bruce Weber was fired. Since then, Director of Athletics Mike Thomas has been searching for his next head coach but has not made an agreement yet. Thomas has said money will not be a factor in the hire, and the salary will come from Division of Intercollegiate Athletics funds.

h2. Shaka Smart

Smart was the first option for Thomas and received an 8-year offer at more than $2.5 million annually. The 34-year-old coach turned down the offer and said he will remain with Virginia Commonwealth, where he has coached the last three seasons.

h2. Brad Stevens

Butler’s current head coach was involved in internet rumors that he expressed interest in the job. Stevens later told ESPN he had not been contacted by Thomas but a source said his agent was. The source added Stevens is not interested but the Chicago Tribune is reporting the Illini are making a “serious run” for the 35-year-old coach, but the Butler head coach released a statement Sunday saying he is happy to be the head coach at Butler.

h2. Jeff Van Gundy

Van Gundy has not coached since the 2006-07 season when his Houston Rockets lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Van Gundy last coached collegiately in 1989 when he was an assistant coach at Rutgers. A source said Thomas spoke to Van Gundy but that he was not interested.

h2. Reggie Theus

Theus is a former draft pick of the Chicago Bulls and coach for the New Mexico State Aggies and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. In his two years with the Aggies, Theus went 41-23 including a berth in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. He then left for the Kings where he lasted one and a half seasons. In April 2010, Theus interviewed for the DePaul coaching job. Theus is reportedly one of the frontrunners for Illinois.

h2. John Groce

The Ohio current head coach is drawing interest from multiple schools after his Bobcats advanced to the Sweet 16 this season. In his four seasons, Ohio has gone 85-56, but has not finished higher than third in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. Groce served as an assistant at Ohio State under Thad Matta and was instrumental in recruiting Greg Oden and Mike Conley. Groce is another frontrunner for the Illini.