NCAA Talk

Lovie Smith given contract extension with Illinois

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USA TODAY

Lovie Smith given contract extension with Illinois

Despite four Big Ten wins in his first three seasons in charge of Illinois football, Lovie Smith and his Santa Clause beard got a contract extension on Sunday.

The Illini re-upped Lovie Smith for two more years, which keeps him under contract through 2023. The move is a bit of a surprise considering the former Bears coach is 9-27 since taking over the Illini. This season the Illini went 4-8, which was his best record.

Given Smith's record, Illinois AD Josh Whitman explained that continuity and a young roster are reasons to keep Smith in charge.

"This extension demonstrates my belief in Lovie Smith, his staff, and the plan they have for the future success of Illinois Football," Whitman said in Illinois' press release on the extension. "I have studied our program extensively, and I see steady progress, both in the development of our current players and the talent we are adding to our roster. To date, we have remained one of the youngest teams in college football, with only nine seniors and nearly 80 freshmen and sophomores. As our players grow in strength, skill, and experience, more wins will follow. 

"We recognize that our work is far from finished, with improvement needed in every phase of our program's development, but our plan is sound and our resolve is stronger than ever," Whitman continued. "As I have said on many occasions, stability and continuity are key to building a foundation that will yield long-term success."

Illinois hasn't made a bowl game since 2014 and hasn't had a winning record in the Big Ten since 2007. Smith went 3-9 in his first year in 2016 (2-7 in the Big Ten) before going winless in the Big Ten last season with a 2-10 overall record.

Given the state the program was in when Smith took over, no one expected a quick turnaround for the Illini. The extension allows Smith to show potential recruits that the program has stability and he isn't on the hot seat. As Chris Vannini of The Athletic tweeted, if it doesn't change Lovie Smith's buyout, it doesn't change anything about Illinois' ability to fire him if there isn't improvement in 2019.

Smith coached the Bears from 2004-2012 and had an 81-63 record in his tenure, including taking the team to a Super Bowl. He is the only Bears coach to have a winning record in his tenure since Mike Ditka left after the 1992 season.

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

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Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

The DePaul men's basketball team has been placed on three-year probation and head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended three games for the 2019-20 season, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

The program was found guilty of "failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance while Leitao did not "prevent violations from occurring in his program."

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel concluded that a "former DePaul associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly directed the former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a recruit."

The NCAA found that three coaches knew about the situation but failed to report the infractions. DePaul will vacate all wins earned while the ineligible player competed and suffer recruiting restrictions. They were also fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget.

In 2019, DePaul had their first winning season since 2007 by going 19-17. 

Jalen Rose: Fab Five beef squashed with Michigan hiring Juwan Howard

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Jalen Rose: Fab Five beef squashed with Michigan hiring Juwan Howard

The Michigan Wolverines are hiring former Fab Five star Juwan Howard as the head coach of their basketball team. Aside from being a part of that prolific college basketball team, Howard is a two-time NBA champion with the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.

And he is a former local basketball hoops star at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, where we was named an All-American in 1991.

But the Fab Five have not been on the best of terms over the years, particularly current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. With Howard back in Ann Arbor, all beefs are officially over.

“It squashes any drama or any beef because we’re not going to bring that to Ann Arbor’s campus with Juwan Howard as our head coach," Rose told Mike Greenberg when asked about the beef Thursday morning on ESPN's Get Up. "The one thing that we both know is his success turning around the University of Michigan is first and foremost about him and about the players that he’s going to influence. Then it’s about us being there to support him, not being drama, not being splintered, not giving any indication of dysfunction.

"We’re going to move as a family and we’re going to do what we can to build on what John Beilein has established in Ann Arbor.”

Rose reiterated this point later in the day during a segment with fellow Michigan alum Adam Schefter.

Let's wait and see if Howard brings winning ways to Michigan to make this honeymoon period last, otherwise it could be back to business as usual.

Also, does Chris Webber feel the same way? Has Rose already talked to Webber to clear the air? Or is Rose just saying it's over on his side in the hopes Webber follows suit?

Both Webber and Rose made it clear that Howard was their preferred candidate, so they seem to be on the same page.

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