Mon, 20 Mar 2017 16:58:15 +0000UI announcementbrad underwoodhttp://chic.clipsyndicate.com/video/playlist/12450/6836708?cpt=8&wpid=2637WCIAWarming into the 60's and lower 50's by 9 p.m.
Some breaking news out of the u of i today where they'll officially name brad underwood, head of the men's football team. He made his way to illinois this weekend and spent the last year at oklahoma state. He made an appearance at the ncaa tournament this year. Wcia 3 sports director is live at the state farm center for a press conference that starts soon.
Reporter: good afternoon. A good-sized crowd out here so far for the mid-afternoon, nothing better to do on a monday afternoon. Come out to state farm center. This is the new basketball coach's introductory press conference. He arrived on saturday and our camera crews were there as he flew into willard airport. Flights start there at 4:45 on saturday afternoon. 48 hours later, we're here today as he's set to be introduced as the 18th men's basketball coach for the university of illinois. It's only been eight days after the coach was five years on the job. Woodman doesn't waste any time to make a hire. It took him two days to hire football coach lovie smith. There's one day to fire and hire to the basketball program. He comes from oklahoma. He turned them around, flipping their record from 12-20 two years ago to 20-13 this season in the ncaa tournament appearance where they lost to michigan in the first round last friday. We'll carry the first few minutes of the press conference live on wcia. To watch the entire press conference, head to illinois home page.net where you can watch it in its entirety. Brad underwood is in the building, set to walk up to the podium in a few minutes. Once again, we'll have the first probably five to 10 minutes here of the press conference live on wcia and then head over to illinois home page.net and you can watch it in its entirety. His family is here with him and flew in with him saturday afternoon and josh wittman is walking in right now, the man of the hour, and brad underwood is following up behind him. Here's kent brown, the university of illinois media director. He's going to introduce him and then we'll hear from brad underwood, the new university of illinois basketball coach.
It's not often i have to move the microphone down, except after i follow kent to the podium. First of all, i just want to obviously thank everybody, welcome so many great fans. It's great to have people with us on this very important day in our very bright future for illinois basketball. It's wonderful to see so many fans with us today. As i talked to coach underwood and started relaying the interest and the enthusiasm around illinois basketball, a big part of that was all of you, was the tremendous support and enthusiasm that exists for our basketball program, not just in our community but across our state and really across the united states. And so i'm very grateful to our fans, to our alums, to our donors. This is a great step forward for our program. It is just the first step and certainly we're excited to visit with so many of our alumni nation and encourage them to take these steps with us and be a part of this incredible basketball tradition and the incredible realignment process about our basketball and family. Men's basketball searches are unbelievably intense and challenging for a few reasons. One, the condensed timeline. Two, the incredible public scrutiny, the interest around the position. And then third, the amount of what i would call patently false information that finds its way out into the universe. It makes it difficult to navigate the process and do so in a way that allows us to reach a prompts and strong conclusion on batch of our program. We didn't use a search firm, but i certainly didn't go through this myself. I would like to thank a few by name, which starts with my wife, hope, and our daughter tate. It's been a few intense few days around our household recently. Even when i've been home, my mind is elsewhere and i've been on the phone. I'm grateful to her and her support during a difficult and challenging timeline. She's been unbelievable as she has been with everything else we've encountered since we came here just over a year ago. I also want to thank chancellor jones who continues to be an unbelievable advocate on behalf of our athletic program, wonderful council and great sounding board, has become a good friend and i look forward to working with him and grateful to him for his support. President killeen as well. You don't make these changes or advance a program like we are today without strong institutional alignment where people understand and embrace the vision put forth in this case by the athletic director where the chancellor, the president and ultimately our board of trustees doesn't buy into that vision. Well, ours does. We've had different times in our history, and we all know there's been points in time where it hasn't existed. We need to be grateful for it when we have it and we have it right now. They all understand the value of a strong enter collegiate athletic program at the university of illinois. They all understand what strong athletics does for the brand and reputation for our university, for the environment here in our community in champagne urbana and ultimately our entire state. I can't thank them enough for their support, for their trust, and we are taking an unbelievable step with illinois athletics today in large part because of their support and because of their trust. That alignment was never more on display than our use of the search waiver in the at that till -- facilitation process. When you saw the jobs come open, we recognized that certain coaches start to get eliminated from the tournament and they became available, hirings start to be made. We recognized if we waited until midnight tonight, we would be putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. So you saw that institutional alignment again show itself through an understanding that we needed to use a process, the search waiver, to go out and get our coach in a timeline way. I can't thank, again, our university for their support of that necessity. The number of people on our staff, warren hood, paul, and many other staff members have all been involved in this process at different points in time. I can't thank them enough. We had a successful process here i think for three primary reasons. No. 1 is, it was comprehensive. No. 2, it was confidential. No. 3, it was fast. And in the men's basketball environment, those three things are absolutely crucial to navigating a successful search process. Talk a little bit about the process in particular. You start with a list. And that list, as most of you would guess, is probably not a lot different than some of the lists that anybody could -- would coming up with. The next step is more difficult, which is the vetting. There's a lot of vetting that goes into the names that gets put on that list. That vetting occurs in a number of different ways, it happens through a lot of reading. It's amazing how successful and helpful the internet can be when you're doing a search like this. All the information out there about different coaches and candidates. You watch a lot of video and press conferences, when they're mic'd up at practice, how they interact with the media and fans. You watch game film. You talk to people within the industry. I've talked to other athletic directors. You talk to conference officials and talk to people at ncaa. In our case, we're very fortunate we have two incredibly plugged in basketball alumni. Ultimately, you start talking to agents, have conversations with candidates and you start to narrow down your list. Now, let's talk about brad underwood. As we got into our process, brad underwood's name was at the top of the list and has been from the first day. Now, what happened was we found ourselves talking around him for a while because we just didn't think that we had a chance to get him, to be very frank about it. We weren't so sure there was an opportunity for us to attract brad to come to our university, and so we worked around that for a time and ultimately somebody said why don't we find out if there's an interest. And so last wednesday, for the first time, we picked up the phone and we called brad's representative. And had a discussion with him and we were thrilled to learn that the university of illinois has long been a destination location for coach underwood. I'll let him explain why that is, but certainly as someone who has spent as much time here as i have, who cares as much about this place as i do, as we embarked on this process, it was important for me to find somebody who cares as much about this place as i do, who understands what a special opportunity it is to be the head basketball coach at the university of illinois, who understands our tradition, who knows what this place can be when it's full and it's orange and it's loud and it's intimidating. So when i heard there was that interest from brad underwood, from that point it was all about brad underwood. What do we need to do to try to put a process in place to bring him here as our next basketball coach. So that led to one call and another and another. I never had any direct conversations with brad. By text, by phone, in person. Until saturday morning. That's the first time we had a chance to visit with each other. Needless to say, we hit it off. I have a lot of shared values, shared expectations, shared dreams about what this basketball program can and should look like, compete like and how it will represent, not just the athletic program, but all of our great fans and our great alumni nation. So things have happened quickly since then. Needless to say. And let me tell you what i love about brad underwood. It's a long, long list. First of all, i love that he's a winner, a proven winner. We tell people the best predictor of future success is past performance. You look at what his team has done and it's nothing short of remarkable. He set records in terms of their encore performance. He develops players and programs. You look at the programs he's come into, how they performed before he arrived and how they performed after, and it is remarkably different. Remarkably different. That's not a coincidence. I've talked at length since i came on board here 13 months ago that university of illinois and fighting athletics, we need to hone in on our identity. There's no question that brad underwood's teams have a strong identity. It's built on toughness, built on intensity, there's a tenacity to the way his teams play that resonates strongly with me and i think will resonate strongly with our fans. I'm excited about seeing those teams take the court. It bleeds into their style of play. They move fast. They're aggressive. They get in your face on defense. They get the shot up. It was fun to think about brad underwood teams being out here on the state farm center court, watching how they get up and down the floor, watching how they compete and the emotion and excitement and enthusiasm about wearing the orange and blue. Brad's someone of highest integrity. Someone who has no interest in breaking the rules or running afouling of the ways in which we expect our coaches in our programs to operate. I've always said that we have every intention of winning big 10 and national championships here at the university of illinois. When that happens, we never want there to be any question of the means by which those championships were attained. We never have to worry about that with brad underwood. He's a teacher. He's someone who stresses relationships. With his players. With his staff. With our fans. Our community. He's a relationship person. When he gets on that court, he's able to push his guys further than they ever thought they could go. The reason he's able to do that is because of the relationship he spent time building with them off the court. For those of you who have been around high level athletics, that's the magic dust. That's the key that makes this thing work, is when you have that trust with your student athletes, they know that they care about you. They know you're invested in them. They'll let you push them. They'll let you take them places they wouldn't be able to ordinarily go. And i know that brad underwood is unbelievable at that. And the last thing, and certainly not the least important, he cares a lot about the university of illinois and he wants to be here. We want people who want to be a part of the fighting family, who understand and embrace the great tradition and the great opportunity that we have in illinois basketball and in the fighting athletics. This place is special. We want people here who understand how special it is. We found one of those people in brad underwood. So, with that, i want to thank brad, his wonderful wife, susan, son tyler and their daughters katie and ashley and thank them so much for their trust in us, for their confidence in the bright future that we have here for joining our community and our fighting family and please join me in welcoming our new basketball coach, brad underwood. [applause].
Now i have to lower it. Thank you. I'm very humbled. I'm very honored to be standing here today. This is a very special moment in my life, one that i was not sure would ever come to fruition. Obviously, a very huge thanks to chancellor jones, to josh for believing in me, for seeking me out. I'm very appreciative of that. Behind every head coach that has family, there's always a tremendous amount of family support that has to take place. Hope, i appreciate you coming along on that trip and giving an opportunity. I don't want to leave you out. I know how important that my wife of 29 years is. It's been an incredible journey and she's been there every step of the way. As you get to know her, you'll find out she's the important one in this relationship. So if susan would please stand. [applause].
My son, who will be making his transfer to the university of illinois, tyler. Tyler was a red shirt freshman with us at oklahoma state and will be making the transfer as well. Tyler, please stand. [applause].
My eldest daughter, 16-year-old, a junior in high school, katie, please stand. [applause].
And my youngest, who is a freshman in high school, ashley. [applause].
Without them, none of this is possible and, to be honest, none of it is worth it. So they are a tremendous resource and someone i'm obviously very, very proud of. A dear friend, representative, agent, but more importantly, a big, big part of my life and a close friend and helped throughout this process, brett just, please stand, brett. [applause].
I would be remiss if i did not thank a great group of people at oklahoma state university. It's a wonderful institution. I leave there with my head held high. They're going to get a terrific basketball coach there. That program is going to continue to move forward, and i thoroughly enjoyed my year there and wish them nothing but continued success, which that program will continue to have. As josh mentioned, the process was one that it happened very quickly. It's been a whirlwind. And i have a policy that i don't talk to anybody until my season is over. That's in fairness to our players, the institution that i'm at. And i never thought i'd leave oklahoma state. And then i have a conversation with brett after we get beat by michigan by 1 and i'm not in a very good mood. One-point losses, i'm back-to-back losses in the ncaa tournament. Those are tough. Mentioned the university of illinois and a couple of other schools had reached out and been pursuing, and for me, it was no decision. It was something that meant a great deal to me. I spent 10 years in this state, from 1993 to 2003, and at that time, i learned how important this nation was and how powerful and basketball was special here. And coach hanson, who i did have a conversation with yesterday, he's been a guy who's reached out to me throughout the course of last season, and i look forward to him coming back in april so we can get together and sit down and visit and he's been a tremendous resource and i truly appreciate that, but he had retired. I knew of his success. You know, then lon kruger, bill self. We came in here and took a few whoopings when i was here with those guys coaching. Every young person in this state that played basketball grew up wanting to be a part of this. And it was -- it was -- i thought i was from a basketball state, i really did, in kansas, where i grew up. Nothing like this. This is the best high school basketball in the country. It's got great coaches. It's got great talent. And the fan support and the community support was something that just made a huge impact on me. To go to a high school game on tuesday and friday night and see towns shut down and everybody the there. At the time i came here to state tournaments and to see this arena packed, it made a huge impact. And then to actually come in here as an opponent and have to play, it made tremendous memories for me, and those were -- those were memories that never left. I felt this is an elite program, as josh and i visited. That resonated with me. And i use the term a lot and you'll hear me, i dream big. It's a cliche that obviously i didn't coming up with, but i do, i dream big and i dream bigger. And winning a national championship is something that can happen here and i want to be a part of that. I want to help lead this program to that. And when you're director of athletics -- your director of athletics has that same vision, that was important for me. And when you're in an elite program and an elite conference like the big 10 and obviously they're having a tremendous ncaa tournament, all things are possible. And that's something that i was drawn to. The only -- the only thing that i'm going to say, it's not just about me. It's all about you. We have to do -- we have to do this together. And it's boosters. It's supporters of the program. It's the orange crush. Things happen together and i think the one thing that excites me is when this arena is full, it's one of the greatest home courts ever. It's impactful. I look forward to reaching out and getting to know all of the supporters. I look forward to getting out and hanging out with the orange crush and getting to know them. That makes it special, when it happens -- when it happens together. And i really look forward to that. I have a couple of things philosophically. There's a commitment to winning. And i use this phrase a lot, "losing is not an option." And i want our players to believe that. I look forward to building those relationships with our players. I've had one very short conversation with them. I've had a very brief conversation with jamal. In all fairness, this is about them right now. They're still playing. They're privileged to still have an opportunity to continue to go win games. And i don't want to be a distraction for them at this time. I've told jamal that same thing. There will be a time and place where we'll all continue to visit, but the players will hear that a lot. "losing is not an option." We're going to work to be everyday guys. That's not a basketball term. That's a real-life term. We all have to show up and work every day. We have to give our best every day. We ask that for our players. Whether that's on the court, whether that's in the classroom, whether that's community relations. Big things that impact a program. I'm a culture guy. Our culture is based on work. Our culture is based on family. As my family, the staff we put together, and that will impact our program. It will all be about family. That is something that i don't think there's enough -- enough value in. We actually live it and we talk about it in terms of staying together. We work very hard to create an environment in our locker room where our players are committed to each other, they're dedicated to each other and playing for the name on the front of their jersey, not necessarily the one on their back. In regards to our players, i can't say enough how much i'm looking forward to sitting down with them. Young people come to college with big dreams and aspirations and they come to reach their goals and to achieve their goals. I look forward to sitting down and finding out what each player's goals are. What they want to do with their careers, what they want to do with their lives. Then we have a base. We can sit down and we can help them achieve those goals. We do it through hard work, as i mentioned. We do it through dedication. I think that will happen. I think you'll see that on the court. The one thing that our teams -- i can't tell you we're going to win games, that's so hard to control. Winning is hard. The one thing i can tell you is you all will be proud of what goes on out there. We're going to play hard. We're going to play the right way. We're going to play for each other. We're going to play, like i said, for the name on the front, and that takes not just one, that takes everybody. We're going to work to strive for that. I like to play up tempo and be in your face defenseively. I take to take advantage of what -- on the offensive end of every option available. We weren't the biggest team in the country at stephen f. Austin. In fact, we were one of the smallest. In oklahoma state, we were one of the top rebounding teams. We were in the top 10 and top free throw shooting teams in the country, always to score other than through just offense. We liked to play fast, one of the top teams in the country in scoring in the first seven seconds. We're a very good shooting team. There will be a certain skill set that we'll recruit to. But we are very committed to a style of play. The one thing i know we'll have, we'll have an identity on both ends of the court. And that starts with a great foundation and we will build from there. We may have to tweak things here and there based on personnel, but we're going to be a team that plays with a lot of passion and shows up to work every single day. I think there's tremendous value -- and i would be very remiss, as historic as this program is -- if i didn't mention the former players, coaches and managers. Every elite program -- and this is an elite program -- has a place to recognize their former players. And to have them involved, and there's so many of them. My goodness, i wouldn't start to even name them, there's so many. And the great coaches and there's people behind-the-scenes and managers that make that all possible. I want our current players to know when their time is done, they have something to be extremely proud of. And they have a place to go that they can always call home. When you have sweat equity in a program, as the former players do, you have great stories. You have great memories. I want the orange crush to have memories that take place in this building, that they'll talk about for a lifetime. As many of you have great memories of some of the great players that have stepped on that court, i want those people to be a part of illinois basketball for years to come and feel a part of our program. They're always welcome back. We'll work very, very hard to continue to bring as many of those athletes back, as many of those players, coaches, as we can. To them, they built this. They're the reason i'm standing here. I'm an old-school historian from that aspect. The tradition and culture of this program is why i stand here today. Those guys impacted me. And they made this program special. I'm excited to be your basketball coach. I look forward to seeing this arena packed. I look forward to hearing the orange crush get loud. And, again, i'm truly the blessed one. Thank you.