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Illinois Hires Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood

Illinois hiring Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood

Athletic Director Josh Whitman announced the hiring of Brad Underwood as their new coach of the Illini via his Twitter account on Saturday, March 18.

Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood is leaving Stillwater for IL after just one season, calling the chance to lead the Fighting Illini a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

Underwood had taken the Oklahoma State position after three successful seasons at Stephen F. Austin.

Last Monday, the day after the Cowboys were assigned to Indianapolis for a first-round NCAA Tournament game against Michigan, Holder and Underwood met. Their season ended Friday with a 92-91 loss to MI in the NCAA Tournament.

This makes these upcoming seasons for him extremely important because Underwood's ability to recruit players in Chicago is going to be exclusively based on how the team performs the next couple of years.

IL has hired Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood, sources told ESPN. Oklahoma State came on strong during the second half of the season, winning 10 of 11 games from January 21-Feb.

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Underwood signed a 6-year contract worth $3 million per year with IL.

Assistant coach Jamall Walker, who has served as interim head coach since Groce was sacked, will remain on Underwood's staff.

The coaching carousel in the Big Ten keeps moving.

"We are saddened and disappointed in Brad's decision to leave Oklahoma State after one year", Oklahoma State athletics director Mike Holder said. Although this is no Tony Bennett, Archie Miller or Gregg Marshall kind of splash hire, it is the kind of pragmatic get, which might ultimately prove to be much more fruitful in the long run. Underwood got the Lumberjacks to the NCAA Tournament in all three seasons and saw his mid-major program advance to the Round of 32 two times. That is a big pay upgrade from his previous deal with Oklahoma State that was only paying him $1-million per year.

What hurts the most is that Underwood seemed like he was one of us. The Illini have missed four straight NCAA tournaments. That team was seeded 12th in the South Region and Underwood was in charge as Stephen F. Austin upset Shaka Smart and Virginia Commonwealth in an opening round game.

"Coaching basketball at the University of IL is a once-in-lifetime opportunity", Underwood said.

Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network.