STILLWATER, Okla. — In a surprise move, McPherson native Brad Underwood has left Oklahoma State as head basketball coach after just one season to become head coach at the University of Illinois.
According to various reports, Underwood has signed a 6-year deal worth more than $3 million per season. At Oklahoma State, he was making a little over id="mce_marker" million and had four years left on his contract.
Fighting Illini athletic director Josh Whitman welcomed Underwood to the program in a tweet Saturday afternoon.
"In searching for a new coach, we were looking for a proven winner who would build upon our proud tradition while developing an unmistakable identity for Illinois basketball," Whitman said in a statement. "Brad's teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness."
“Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Underwood said in a statement. "The players, fans and administration at Oklahoma State have been absolutely incredible, and I want to thank them for the support they've given me and my family over the last year. However, during my time at Western Illinois, I always saw the Illinois coaching job as one of the truly best in the nation. I want to thank Josh Whitman for the opportunity to join the Fighting Illini family and look forward to working with him to build a championship program."
It is a bit of a homecoming for Underwood as he spent 11 years as an assistant coach at Western Illinois.
Underwood, the runner-up to Kansas’ Bill Self for Big 12 Coach of the Year, led Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament in his only year as the Cowboys lost to Michigan on a last-second shot on Friday. He had led Stephen F. Austin to three straight NCAA appearances, which included upsets of VCU and West Virginia.
"You see a lot of coaching changes across America, but very rarely do you see one after just one year," Self said when asked about Underwood leaving. "Granted, Brad is a really good guy and did a great job. But from the outside looking in, it looked to me like OSU and Brad fit very, very well."