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Brad Underwood Named Illinois Head Coach, Leaves Oklahoma State

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2017

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 4: Head coach Brad Underwood of the Oklahoma State Cowboys reacts as his team plays the Texas Longhorns at the Frank Erwin Center on January 4, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Chris Covatta/Getty Images

After just one season at Oklahoma State, Brad Underwood is leaving the Cowboys to become the new head men's basketball coach at Illinois.

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman welcomed Underwood to the Fighting Illini with the following tweet:

Josh Whitman @IlliniAD

Welcome Coach Brad Underwood! #WeWillWin #ILLINI https://t.co/9yqLI0Ce1x

ESPN's Jeff Goodman was the first to report the news, and it was later confirmed by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, who added that Underwood was underpaid at Oklahoma State.

According to Goodman, the contract is a six-year deal worth over $3 million per year. 

An Oklahoma State official said there was no indication Underwood was leaving and "was stunned and learned about his hiring at Illinois via Twitter," per ESPN's Andy Katz.

According to Jeremy Werner of IlliniInquirer.com, Underwood has long held the Illinois head coaching job in high regard:

Jeremy Werner @JWerner247

In a statement, new #Illini coach Brad Underwood said: "I always saw the Illinois coaching job as one of the truly best in the nation."

Per Mark Cooper of the Tulsa World, Underwood signed a five-year, $6.3 million contract with Oklahoma State last year.

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Dan Wolken of USA Today reported that Underwood was promised a contract renegotiation if he won at Oklahoma State, but athletic director Mike Holder didn't have serious talks about a new deal with the coach.

Goodman added that Underwood's relationship with Holder played a role in his decision to leave.

In his only season with the Cowboys, Underwood led them to a 20-13 record and a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament, but seventh-seeded Michigan ousted them, 92-91.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Underwood spearheaded a significant offensive turnaround at Oklahoma State this season:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Under Brad Underwood, Oklahoma St. ranked 6th in Div. I in scoring this season after ranking 303rd the season before Underwood arrived. https://t.co/eQHWT0FGrY

The 53-year-old Underwood's first three campaigns as a college basketball head coach were at Stephen F. Austin, where he went 89-14, won three Southland regular-season and conference championships and brought the Lumberjacks to the NCAA tournament three times.

Stephen F. Austin also won two NCAA tourney games during Underwood's tenure.

Illinois fired John Groce as head coach on March 11 after five seasons with the team. He went just 96-75 overall and 37-53 in Big Ten play.

The Fighting Illini haven't reached the NCAA tournament since 2013, and they are coming off a 19-14 season.

Illinois was once a college basketball power. It reached the NCAA tournament eight straight years from 2000 through 2007, including an appearance in the national title game in 2005.

The Fighting Illini are still alive in the 2017 NIT, however, and will face Boise State on Monday.

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