In a completely stunning move, new Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman has fired football coach Bill Cubit. Cubit, who had officially been giving title only four months ago, served as interim coach for entire the 2015 season.
We'll have more on this very shortly, but here's the press release in its entirety:
URBANA, Ill. - University of Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman announced the dismissal of head football coach Bill Cubit on Saturday following one season as interim head coach.
Whitman, who made the announcement on his first official day as the university's athletic director, indicated that providing stability to the Fighting Illini football program was an immediate need.
"I appreciate the leadership that Bill Cubit provided our football program during what has been, unquestionably, a very tumultuous time," Whitman said. "He accepted the challenge on an interim basis under incredibly difficult and unusual circumstances, and he has continued to work diligently for the betterment of our student-athletes. Through his efforts, he has kept the program moving forward. Bill is a good man and a good football coach. All of us in the Illini Nation owe him a debt of gratitude for his work leading our team these last months. At this juncture, however, I think it is most important that we position our program for long-term success by creating a more stable environment for the coaches, players, and prospective student-athletes."
Cubit was named interim head coach on Aug. 28, 2015, when former athletics director Mike Thomas fired Tim Beckman during an investigation relating to injury reporting and student-athlete medical treatment. Cubit led Illinois to a 5-7 record in 2015, including 2-6 in the Big Ten, which tied for fifth place in the West Division. Cubit had the interim tag removed from his title on Nov. 29 when he was given a two-year contract.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit was also relieved of his duties effective immediately. The rest of the assistant coaches will have the opportunity to interview with the new head coach.
Whitman will meet players on Saturday. He said that because of the timing of this decision, spring football practice (scheduled to start Friday, March 11) will be delayed until a new head coach is in place and can coordinate a schedule. An announcement will also be forthcoming with regard to the Spring Football Game, currently scheduled for Saturday, April 16.
Subject to contractual mitigation factors, Cubit will receive the remaining balance of payment due for the upcoming season, approximately $985,000. He has an overall record of 90-72-1 in 14 years as a collegiate head coach. Cubit joined the Illinois staff as offensive coordinator in 2013 before becoming interim head coach last August. Ryan Cubit was named offensive coordinator in December. He will paid approximately $361,000 for the remainder of his contract.
Whitman indicated he would name a new head coach as soon as possible.