By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer
May 13, 2022
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Josh Whitman is contractually set to stay in his current position until at least June 2028.
Pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, the Illinois athletics director will have a four-year contract extension that will extend his current employment at his alma mater until June 30, 2028.
The terms of Whitman’s extension will push his base salary to $975,000 for 2022-23 season and will start next week on May 20. The extension will have $50,000 annual raises that will see Whitman’s salary reach $1,225,000 by the end of the amended contract. Beyond his annual salary, Whitman would receive retention bonuses of $200,000 at the conclusion of the 2024, 2026 and 2028 athletic seasons at the end of June and the Illini athletic boss would also be in line for a possible maximum of $300,000 annually bonuses for athletic and academic achievements within the Illinois programs.
According to the proposed deal, Whitman’s buyout clause if he’s fired without cause would be 100 percent of his remaining salary but capped at a $4.5 million figure. If Whitman were to resign from the position before the end of the contract, Whitman (or possibly whoever would be hiring Whitman away from Illinois) would be required to pay Illinois $1.8 million and that figure decreases by $300,000 annually.
Whitman boasts several facilities upgrades during his tenure at Illinois since he was hired in Feb. 2016. Whitman’s first project he oversaw was the $80 million Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Performance Center. Illinois has also started a $40 million expansion and renovation of the Ubben Basketball Complex. Other projects Whitman has been able to oversee the fundraising and construction include the $14 million Demirjian Park for soccer and track and field, the ongoing $8 million construction of the Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center, the $6 million project for the Rex and Alice A. Martin Softball Training Center, a $2 million expansion of the Demirjian Indoor Golf Practice Facility and the $5 million renovation of Atkins Golf Club set to open next month.
Arguably Whitman’s biggest miss during his athletics director tenure would be the five years of planning and exploration toward the birth of a Division I men’s hockey program that the athletics department announced earlier this month would not be happening due to lack of funding for the project.
Whitman’s head coaching hires have produced a mixed bag of results. Whitman has hired and fired Lovie Smith as the head football coach and hired Bret Bielema to replace Smith in Dec. 2020. It should be noted Whitman’s new extension takes him to one athletic season further than Bielema’s six-year, $26.7 million deal, of which the Illini head coach is currently in the second year.
Whitman terminated John Groce after the 2017 Big Ten Conference Tournament and hired then-Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood, who has taken Illinois to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and last year completed a share of the regular season Big Ten championship. Whitman is on his second women’s basketball head coach hire after hiring Nancy Fahey and replacing her this winter with Dayton head coach Shauna Green. Whitman’s coaching hires have also included volleyball head coach Chris Tamas, women’s tennis head coach Evan Clark, women’s gymnastics head coach Nadalie Walsh, cross country head coach Sarah Haveman and women’s swimming and diving head coach Jeana Kempe.
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