The upcoming football national signing day may be dominating the headlines at Illinois, but one non-revenue sport just received some absolutely devastating news. The Stanford Cardinal announced on Monday that Illinois volleyball’s Kevin Hambly has been hired to fill their vacant head coaching position.
Welcome to The Farm Coach Hambly! https://t.co/DhqmUcdWrg— Stanford Volleyball (@StanfordWVB) January 30, 2017
Hambly started his Illinois career as an assistant from 2004-2008. After former coach Don Hardin retired, Hambly spent eight seasons as the head coach in Champaign, compiling an incredible 178-86 overall record. The Fighting Illini quickly became a very well-respected program over that successful span thanks to 6 NCAA Tournament regional appearances and a 2011 NCAA Runner-Up finish in the Final Four. Currently, Illinois holds a Top 10 average attendance record in collegiate volleyball.
Statement from Kevin Hambly
"I am extremely excited for the opportunity to be the head coach at Stanford. It is the premier university and athletics department in the country, and there was just no way I could pass it up. I am grateful to Bernard and Beth [Goode] for the work they put in and the time they took to help me understand more about Stanford, which made me that much more excited for the opportunity."
Hambly: My wife and I became adults here. This community has meant so much to us. It's been wonderful.— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) January 30, 2017
Hambly: One of the hardest things to leave is Josh Whitman. Illinois should be ecstatic about having him as a leader.— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) January 30, 2017
Hambly: "In the end, we ended up hugging it out Josh and I." Humbled by what Whitman offered financially.— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) January 30, 2017
Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman faces a tough task in replacing Hambly, and this will be just his second hiring opportunity since taking over last March. Still, his immediate reaction on Twitter provides at least some optimism for the future of the volleyball program.
Many thanks to @KevinHamblyILVB for his leadership of @IlliniVBall. An exceptional coach and a better person. He will be missed. #ILLINI— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) January 30, 2017
The vision for @IlliniVBall is bold. We will find the best coach with #ILLINI values who can lead us to @bigten and @NCAA championships.— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) January 30, 2017
Moving forward, Illinois assistant Jason Mansfield may be an option that can keep things running steady for the Orange and Blue. As an assistant at Stanford, Mansfield helped lead the Cardinal to 6 Final Four appearances, 5 NCAA Title matches, and a 2004 National Championship to go along with 7 PAC-10 conference titles. Mansfield joined Hambly’s staff in Champaign last season.