By Sean McDevitt
In his annual media roundtable, University of Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman presented his State of Illinois Athletics and spoke at length about the remarkable accomplishments of the Illinois Athletics program and individual sports while addressing several ongoing issues in college athletics and continuing his message of sustained success.
For all intents and purposes, the state of Illinois Athletics is strong.
The 2022–23 school year saw the Illinois Athletics program capture two Big Ten Team Championships in men’s and women’s golf, plus two student-athletes brought home individual national championships in women’s gymnastics and women’s indoor track and field.
The men’s basketball program is one of only four Big Ten teams that made the NCAA Tournament three years in a row. Head coach Brad Underwood also has the winningest four-year performance in school history.
A resurgent women’s basketball squad made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two decades with head coach Shauna Green in her first year, leading the team to their best season in more than 20 years.
Football had its best season since 2007, was ranked in the top 25, and made a January bowl game for the first time in 15 years.
With the fiscal year winding down at the end of June, Illinois Athletics will finish with approximately $35 million in new fundraising business. It will be the sixth-consecutive year that Illinois Athletics surpassed $30 million in new business. It’s the fourth-most successful year in the last 10. The active donor count is also over 7,300, the highest in the last decade.
Looking back on the year, Whitman said he’d characterize the season as a tremendous step forward. “This was a year that we had been building toward for really every year of my tenure. We were one of the 14 schools in the country to put our football and men’s and women’s basketball teams into the postseason.”
He called the year a culmination of the tremendous work the staff, coaches, and student-athletes put in to make it possible. “Just getting to the postseason is not the objective. Pursuing our way through the postseason, winning more championships, not only at the…