Illinois woes change Gill's tune on coaching

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
4:26
PM CT
Comcast SportsNet basketball analyst and former Illinois player Kendall Gill said Tuesday he’d be willing to accept the Illini’s coaching job at this point to help the program save face.

Illinois’ coaching search has been deemed a disaster by some after Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens turned the Illini down and following reports Tuesday the hiring of Ohio’s John Groce was being delayed due to a conflict with an Illinois trustee.

“I actually in the last 48 hours with the things they’ve said about the Illinois program, of course I’m going to be biased being from there, I have reconsidered my position on that,” Gill said on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “Before I said, you know what I don’t have any interest in coaching. Now in the last 48 hours, coaching, maybe I might want to do that to put the program back on the map.


“I know I have the ability. I played professional basketball for 15 years, also college for four years and an analyst for six. I know the game. I would consider if it if I got the call.”

Gill, who started at Illinois from 1986-1990 before a 15-year NBA career, was disappointed his former school was being criticized.

“I am frustrated because this is my school, this is my alma mater,” Gill said. “Shaka Smart turned down the job. Brad Steven didn’t accept. I think my school is getting a bad rep. Everyone is thinking it’s not the program everyone made it out to be. Me going to school there, I think I know that is a good program. Now, we have a problem with the hiring of this head coach.”

Gill said Illinois’ trustees needed to allow athletic director Mike Thomas to do the job he was hired to do.

“It’s just like being the owner of a professional sports team,” Gill said. “You have to let the general manager be the general manager. That’s why you hired him for the job.

“I don’t know what’s going on down there right now, but it’s become a mess, and it’s also sort of become an embarrassment. If they hire the guy and get it done, we’ll soon forget what transpired in the last couple of weeks.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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