News Local/State

Illinois Fires Women’s Basketball Coach Bollant

Former Illini Women's Basketball head coach Matt Bollant addresses the media at the Ubben Basketball Complex.

Former Illini Women's Basketball head coach Matt Bollant addresses the media Wednesday at the Ubben Basketball Complex. Jeff Bossert/WILL

Matt Bollant has been fired as head women's basketball coach at Illinois after five seasons, compliing a record of 61-94, and 22-62 in the Big Ten Conference. The news comes three days after John Groce was fired as men's head basketball coach.  "I am excited to embrace a future for Illinois Women's Basketball where we realize the program's full - and virtually unlimited - potential," said U of I Athletic Director Josh Whitman.

In Bollant's first season, he led the team to 19 wins and a tie for fifth place in the Big Ten, when the Illini advanced to the WNIT Quarterfinals. In his last two seasons, the team compiled records of 2-16 and (finishing 14th in the Big Ten) and 3-13 (Tied for 11th.)

For his career, Bollant is 343-149 in 15 seasons as a head coach, which included stops at Bryan College and Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“I would like to thank Matt Bollant and his staff for their many contributions to Illinois Basketball during the last five years,” Whitman said, in a statement. “They have faced great adversity, both on and off the court, yet have greeted every day with unyielding optimism and unmatched effort. They have maintained the well-being and personal growth of the student-athletes under their charge as their foremost priority and have been exceptional ambassadors for Illinois Athletics in our community and in basketball circles across the country."

Whitman says the program is in a better place than it was when Bollant and his staff arrived.

"Our expectation for women's basketball, however, match those that we have for many of our other sport programs: to compete at the highest level, year in an year out."

In 2015, seven former players with the program sued the university, alleging Bollant and former assistant Mike Divilbiss created a "racially hostile environment." Divilbiss resigned after the allegations surfaced. An independent investigation found by a Chicago law firm found no support for those claims, and they later agreed to a $375,000 settlement that was split among the players.

A national search for a new coach will start immediately. Bollant has a year remaining on his contract, and will receive the remaining $450,000 due.