Swimming and Diving
Paul Kowalczyk was named Illinois’ interim athletic director on Monday. Staff writer Scott Richey caught up with Kowalczyk on Wednesday, less than 48 hours into his new job, to discuss what’s next for Illinois athletics, his previous stops at Southern Illinois and Colorado State, life as a Cleveland Browns fan and craft beer:
CHAMPAIGN — “Whirlwind” was the word that came to mind for Illinois interim athletic director Paul Kowalczyk to describe the last 48 hours. Five days’ notice really didn’t give him a head start on his new duties. Not when he wouldn’t officially take the reins of the job until Monday’s announcement of Mike Thomas’ termination.
There are matches made in heaven ... Mike Krzyzewski and Duke, Urban Meyer and Ohio State ... or if you prefer, Bill and Hillary, Johnny Cash and June Carter — who else could have sung “Jackson”? — and don’t forget Stiller and Meara.
Congratulate Michigan’s Wolverines. They had one objective above all others, and they landed him: Jim Harbaugh. Another match made in heaven.
Plenty was said, done and released to the public Monday when Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas was fired and the school released the findings of Franczek Radelet's investigation into the school's football and women's basketball programs. A look at everything from The News-Gazette surrounding the situation:
CHAMPAIGN — Taking a cue from Illinois basketball coach John Groce’s approach to the instability of his roster due to injuries, Paul Kowalczyk is approaching his new position as if he’s simply the next man up.
“When you’re asked to step up, you step up, and I felt like it was an obligation and a duty to the university,” Kowalczyk said.
Who will be the next full-time University of Illinois athletic director after Mike Thomas' ouster Monday? Here are five possibilities, all with past UI ties:
Ex-Illini football player and staffer is the current AD at Colorado and would be a popular pick.
CHAMPAIGN — Heard from Mike Thomas early Monday afternoon.
I asked him for an interview, but he declined. Politely. Always politely.
“Hi Bob,” Thomas texted. “I appreciate the opportunity to visit, but will let you visit with my friends.
“Thanks for your great coverage of UI and best of luck in the future.”
Illinois has fired athletic director Mike Thomas, with UI interim chancellor Barbara Wilson naming senior associate athletic director Paul Kowalczyk as interim AD effective immediately.
Here's some of the reaction happening across Twitter after Monday morning's announcement ...
CHAMPAIGN — Since he was hired this summer to be the special assistant to then-Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas, Illini basketball great Dee Brown has been traveling throughout the state, spreading good cheer and vibes about all things Illinois.