New Illinois AD, Harrison grad, fires football coach after 1 season

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, Illinois interim head coach Bill Cubit walks the sidelines during the second quarter of an NCAA football game against Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. New Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman has fired first-year football coach Bill Cubit, saying the program needs a new coach to work toward long-term success. Whitman says in a news release Saturday, March 5, 2016, he appreciated Cubit's work as interim coach last season after the firing of Tim Beckman. (AP Photo/Bradley Leeb)

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — New Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, a Harrison graduate, has fired first-year football coach Bill Cubit, saying the program needs a new coach to work toward long-term success.

Whitman says in a news release Saturday he appreciated Cubit’s work as interim coach last season after the firing of Tim Beckman.

Cubit told The Associated Press on Saturday he was stunned by the news. He was hired as the permanent head coach in November and received a two-year contract. Cubit says Whitman didn’t provide a specific reason for the decision.

The Illini finished 5-7 last season under Cubit. He took over when Beckman was fired a week before the season began amid allegations of player mistreatment.

Whitman was hired as AD last month to replace the fired Mike Thomas.

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