Balancing act for Whitman as athletic director

Local Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — When Josh Whitman took over as Illinois athletic director he brought with him a ‘We Will Win’ mantra. For the most part, the athletic department has done so. Except football and men’s basketball, the two most popular sports at Illinois.

Since Whitman took over in earyl 2016, the football team has won nine games in three season. Men’s basketball is 46-54 in the three full seasons since his hiring, with not NCAA appearances and one NIT big.

Those are the two sports the most people care about and he says he hears the cries of Illini Nation to start winning but he also has to look at the long-term picture and what’s best for each program.

“That’s incumbent on me as the athletic director, to understand and appreciate the frustrations and passions that our fans have for success in our programs. But yet, also recognize that I’m in a unique position of full access to information. I know exactly what’s happening behind the scenes with those sports, and every other sport, to try and put them in positions to be successful,” Whitman said. “I have to make decisions about the best long-term interest of Illinois athletics, and sometimes that may end up being what seems to be at odds with the short-term objectives and needs of our fans, and I recognize that.”

In the spring, all six sports made the NCAA tournament. Men’s and women’s golf made it to the national championships, the first appearance ever for the women’s program. Men’s and women’s tennis each made the field of 64. As well as both baseball and softball getting at-large bids.

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