Open Mike: Moving Forward

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Thomas_AD_OSU_0756.jpgDear Alumni, Students and Friends,
As many of you are aware, we recently had to make two incredibly tough decisions regarding our women's and men's basketball programs. I cannot express deeply enough the respect I have for both Jolette Law and Bruce Weber - both were engaged in many community efforts and always represented the University of Illinois in the highest manner. I certainly wish both of them the best in all of their future endeavors.

As we move forward, we'll be searching for the very best coaches for our women's and men's basketball programs. I expect both new coaches to energize the outstanding Illini fan base and create a new level of excitement. There will be an air of excitement around the announcement of the new coaches, and I'm confident all of you will welcome them to the Illini Nation with open arms. The process will move as quickly as possible, but will be dependent on our target coaches' availability after post-season play.
Both new coaching staffs will make themselves available to the community and will be a part of our Illini Caravan stops around the state during the last two weeks of May.
We'll begin the Caravan in Peoria on May 16, move to Chicago May 17 and 18, head to Springfield on May 21, Danville on May 23 and Decatur on May 24. After Memorial Day, the group will make stops in the Quad Cities on May 29, in Rockford on May 30, Bloomington on May 31 and finish in St. Louis on June 1. I hope many of you take the opportunity to visit with us during a stop in your area. I look forward to meeting and talking with all of you.
Several of our teams will be competing for championships over the next several weeks. The wrestling team got off to an outstanding start Thursday at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. The gymnastics teams will both be competing for Big Ten titles in the coming weeks, with the UI hosting an NCAA Women's Regional at the Assembly Hall on April 7.
I also want to recognize some of our outstanding student-athletes for their community service recently. Jock Jams, the talent show featuring student-athletes from all 19 sports, drew 1,500 spectators and raised more than $16,000 for several different charities. Our baseball team also coordinated a food and fundraiser for tornado victims in Harrisburg. The Champaign-Urbana community donated more than $10,000, approximately 6,700 pounds of goods and nearly $1,100 in retail gift cards for the victims. What an outstanding job by some of the great young people in our programs!
Thanks for your passion for Fighting Illini athletics. I hope to see you at many of our spring Illini events as the weather turns warmer and our athletes move outdoors.
Until next time.

Go Illini!
Mike Thomas

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Disspointed by this release, would've like to hear, "This is an important hire and we will work hard to hire the best coach without worrying about making a political statement about race."

Best of luck with the selections; you are doing the right thing. These changes were overdue.

You set the bar high Mr. Thomas, hope you can come through on your promise of bringing a championship to us.

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