Cross one name off your Illinois athletics director wish list.
Rick George, the athletics director at Colorado, put to rest rumors that linked him to the vacant job in Champaign.
George played football at, graduated from and worked at Illinois, and many lists of potential candidates had him at the top.
“There has been a lot of speculation out there that I will be considered for the athletic director position at the University of Illinois,” George said in a story published on Colorado's official athletics website. “While it is flattering that my name has been connected to the Illinois job, I believe it is due to Illinois being my alma mater and others pushing my name publicly.
“Should Illinois contact me, again that would be both humbling and flattering, but I would gracefully decline because Colorado and Boulder is my home for the foreseeable future.”
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George is a native of Woodstock and played football at Illinois for four years, joining the athletics department after graduating and working there until 1987, when he left for a job at Colorado. He worked for the Texas Rangers and PGA Tour, among other organizations, before becoming Colorado's athletics director in 2013.
His history at Illinois and the job he's doing at Colorado made him a natural speculative candidate and likely the best choice of all those mentioned by observers.
But George affirmed Thursday that he's not going anywhere.
“My family and I are very happy here at Colorado and we have no intention of leaving,” George said. “I am proud of what we have accomplished in a short period of time, but we have much more to get done. I am excited about the future, and I am looking forward to taking on the challenges that we face in athletics with our student-athletes, staff and coaches. I can honestly tell you that I plan on being at Colorado as the athletic director."
Illinois removed Mike Thomas from the position of athletics director a couple weeks ago. Paul Kowalczyk is currently serving as interim athletics director. Filling the position is important, as Illinois might also be looking for a new football coach should interim head football coach Bill Cubit not be elevated to permanent status at season's end.