Former Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has apparently landed another job. According to multiple reports, Cleveland State is expected to name Thomas as the successor to current athletic director John Perry with an announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
Thomas was fired (without cause) from Illinois on November 9, 2015 after a rather tumultuous five years in Champaign. He received a $2.5 million buyout.
BREAKING: Sources tell College AD that Mike Thomas will be Cleveland State's next athletic director. https://t.co/Drjr1rtk7V— College AD (@collegead) February 7, 2017
Some good definitely came out of Thomas’ tenure at Illinois; most notably the completion of the massive renovations to the State Farm Center, as well as some more minor additions to Memorial Stadium. Even though Thomas was able to garner the financial support for several big renovations, his bad revenue sport hires (Tim Beckman, John Groce) and public scandals ultimately cost him his job.
As he tries to repair his reputation at Cleveland State, the Vikings might be looking to make a change at the head coaching position too. The Cleveland State basketball team currently sits at 7-17 overall, good for last place in the Horizon league. They don’t have a football program either, which means Thomas’ main focus will be on other, lower-profile teams. Their swimming and tennis teams are widely regarded as some of the best in the Horizon league.
This is certainly a big step down for Thomas from the Big Ten, but Cleveland State is probably a good place for him to settle and get a chance to redeem himself given their lack of national coverage.