Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Scheduling News, Recruiting, and a Raise for Weber


Big news for all of you Illini fans who were hoping the Illini might play in the Chicago region a little more often. Illinois is very close to finalizing plans to play in a Thanksgiving tournament in Hoffman Estates. This event would be similar to the Las Vegas and South Padre Island tournaments the Illini have played in the two previous seasons--Illinois would host two home games at Assembly Hall and then play two games at the new 10,500 seat Sears Centre Arena. I think we can pretty much guarantee a sellout for both of Illinois' game there no matter who they play if this comes to fruition. Today's Daily Herald has more details about this as well as the next two items I plan to address in this post. Mark Tupper also has a couple of blog entries that provide additional insight.


This news has been out for a few days but thought I would mention it in case you missed it. Illinois will have a new walk-on player this season (although he won't be eligible to play until 2007-2008) in Steve Holdren, a transfer from South Dakota State and a Champaign native. You might remember him as the forward who scored 28 points on the Illini when the two teams played last November. I don't know what all he will add to the team in terms of productivity at the Big Ten level but to have him as a walk-on should be a nice addition based on what I have hear about him.

In other news, Illinois is expressing interest in Scottie Reynolds, a McDonald's All-American, who was committed to Oklahoma until Kelvin Sampson left for Indiana. He is a combo guard and it sounds like he would definitely have the potential to help the team in 2006-2007. The only downside, if you can call it that, is that the Illini are still in the mix for several outstanding 2007 recruits and this would leave them with only one scholarship remaining for that class. However, if you have a high caliber player that you like and is willing to commit to you, you take him. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Coach Weber

Pending university board approval, Coach Weber will receive a one year contract extension and a pay raise. The revised contract would run until 2012 and pay Coach Weber $200,000 in base pay, $600,000 in radio/TV/promotional pay, and then $200,000 in deferred compensation that is payable at the end of the 2010-2011 season as long as he is still the Illini's coach.

This represents the third consecutive year that Coach Weber has seen his contract extended and his pay boosted. I am glad that the University decided to do it again this year. Why? Because it saves me from writing a post about how the job Coach Weber has done at Illinois merits the extension and raise, particularly in light of the fact that Missouri's new coach is making an average of $850,000/year for five years and Indiana is paying Kelvin Sampson an average of $1.5 million/year for seven years (although some people will be surprised if he makes it that long).

I know some people may even argue that there is no way that Kelvin Sampson should be making more money that Bruce Weber. However, Illinois doesn't control what Indiana chooses to pay their coaches plus keep in mind that Coach Weber asked for additional pay for his assistants as well as upgrades at the Ubben Basketball Complex during last year's contract discussion. I think that the fact that Weber asked for these things versus just more and more money for himself says a lot about the type of person he is.

I also appreciate the fact that he did not try to use openings at other programs as leverage to try to force Illinois' hand on his contract (like John Calipari did to Memphis this year when he flirted with N.C. State). Thankfully, that isn't his style or personality. Coach Weber is builidng something special at Illinos and is working to turn a very good program into a great one, as evidenced by his busy "off-season." I, as I am sure all Illinois fans do, look forward to seeing that come to fruition.

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