U of I buyouts adding up

March 10, 2012 6:33:12 AM PST
The University of Illinois is doling out so much so fast they might be mistaken for the Burning Illini. In a state notorious for pay-to-play, this is pay-to-not play, with the state's flagship university paying out millions for coaches not to coach anymore.

Friday, U of I's bottom line grew by almost $4 million with the firing of men's head basketball coach Bruce Weber after the Illini washed out of the Big Ten tournament Thursday in the first round.

"The figure is what it is," said athletic direction Mike Thomas. "Yep, it is $1.3 million a year, per year, over three years."

Weber's firing will cost the university $3.9 million because the Board of Trustees in 2009 agreed to extend his contract for three years with a 50 percent raise.

In firing him, the university has to pay Weber to leave.

"Those buyouts are all paid with division of intercollegiate athletics monies," Thomas said. "Those are monies that come out of our budget and we are not receiving any kind of institutional aid to cover those payments."

This is now U of I's new math adds up:

  • $3.9 million out the door to Weber.
  • $2.6 million to buyout Ron Zook who was fired in November.
  • $620,000 to Jolette Law, the women's basketball coach fired last week.
  • $130,000 paid to University of Toledo to buyout incoming football coach Tim Beckman.

Total main coach buyouts add up to $7.25 million.

Not included are any assistant coach buyouts, plus the millions of dollars spent on nationwide searches for replacements.

Then there are the recent non-athletic firings: former U of I President Joe White who was awarded a $300,000 a year tenured professor position and Chancellor Richard Herman, a similar $244,000 a year job, taking the first year on paid sabbatical.