Illinois Coaching Search: Shaka Smart Turns Down Fighting Illini

VCU head coach Shaka Smart has informed Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas that he won't be accepting the school's offer to be the next head coach of the Fighting Illini, according to Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun Times. Gould says that it's unclear exactly where Thomas will go from here in order to land Bruce Weber's successor.

Smart reportedly turned down an offer of roughly $2.5 million per year, which would have been a significant raise on the salary that he's paid by VCU.

Where Thomas goes from here is uncertain. Alabama coach Anthony Grant, apparently responding to speculation he was on Illinois’ radar, reportedly has said he’s not interested in the Illinois job. Thomas is under pressure to hire a minority coach because Illinois is one of three Big Ten schools that have never had a minority head coach in men’s basketball or football.

Thomas says that he simply wants to find the best coach for his team, and Smart certainly has proven to be a quality coach given VCU's success over the past few years. After nine years of up and downs with Weber pulling the strings, Illinois is looking to land a long-term leader for their program.

For more on this story, stay with SB Nation Chicago. For more on the Illini check out Hail to the Orange. For more news and notes around the country, stick with SB Nation's collegebasketball news hub.

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