In what many will see as a precursor to the situation of men's coach Bruce Weber, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas dismissed Jolette Law as the Illini's women's basketball coach on Friday, one day after it completed its season with a loss in the Big Ten women's tournament.
``Jolette worked extremely hard, but I feel the program needs new leadership for us to compete for championships,'' Thomas said. ``We wish Jolette and her staff nothing but the best. We'll begin a national search immediately to locate the very best coach for the Fighting Illini.''
Thomas, who came to Illinois from Cincinnati in August, has made a big impact quickly. In December, he fired football coach Ron Zook, saying he expects Illinois to compete for Big Ten championships. Thomas is expected to fire Weber after the men's team wraps up its season.
The Illini were 69-93 in Law's five seasons as head coach, including 11-19 this season. Illinois was 27-59 in Big Ten play under Law. Its highest conference finish was eighth place in 2009.
Law, who has two years remaining on her contract, will receive a buyout of $620,000.
``I've found great joy in coaching, teaching and guiding a group of remarkable young women,'' Law said. ``We have laid a good foundation for great things to happen in the near future. I wish nothing but the best for Mr. Thomas, the program, the university and my student-athletes.''