Buford-Bailey leaves Illinois

Buford-Bailey leaves Illinois

The University of Texas announced on Wednesday that Illinois women's track and field coach Tonja Buford-Bailey has joined its women's and men's track and field program as associate head coach.

Buford-Bailey, a former Illini sprinter, spent the last five seasons as the head coach of the women's program at her alma mater. She spent 10 years on the Illinois staff and also helped coach men's sprinters.

“It was a tough decision to leave my alma mater,” Buford-Bailey said in a statement released by Texas. “The University of Illinois allowed me to grow as person, athlete and coach. They have been a family to me and I appreciate all the support I’ve received over the years and even during this process.”

Buford-Bailey's athletes at Illinois earned All-America honors 25 times, including six NCAA titles, most recently 2012 and 2013 NCAA 400-meter champion Ashley Spencer.

Here's the full release from Texas.


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

BruckJr wrote on June 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Sad, sad day for our university.  This lady was a star in the making.  Thanks, Tonja, for your many contributions.  What does it say when she is willing to leave her head coaching position at her alma mater for an assistant's position elsewhere? 

JimOATSfan wrote on June 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Ummm, Texas pays their coaches a lot more?

jturner wrote on June 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Probably a lot more money, plus the warm weather factor will give her the ability to recruit big time prospects without having to explain that they can achieve their potential with limited warm weather training.  Next question is whether Spencer will follow.

Jam wrote on June 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

So why was my comment deleted after I just paid a subscription fee?

CecilColeman wrote on June 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Just a couple of years ago the moaners and groaners on this site would be blaming the A.D. for being too cheap to keep her.  Where are those moaners and groaners these days?

BruckJr wrote on June 26, 2013 at 9:06 pm

So, Texas pays an assistant coach a 'lot more' than Illinois pays a head coach?

flyinIL wrote on June 26, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I am an alumnus of Illinois and was a student-athlete there in the mid-to-late '90's.  The U of I is great but they are a nickel and dime operation outside of their 2 major sports (and WBB but that doesn't count).  Example:  Auburn baseball just hired a new head coach for over $600K/yr.  I don't know for sure but I think that Illinois pays their Head BB coach right at or around $100K.  The Illini have made the NCAA tourney more times in the last 5 yrs than Auburn.  The DIA tries to squeeze blood from a stone when it comes to sports outside of MBB and FB.  WBB is a money pit for all but about 6 programs in the country.  The pay for many WBB coaches DOES NOT reflect what they bring in.  Most athletic depts lose $ hand over fist on WBB.  Regardless, the U of I nickel and dimes way too much to keep good coaches.  Sad to hear that Buford-Bailey is leaving but Illinois would rather be mediocre and save $ than compete for national titles and spend about 4% more of their budget to keep good coaches.  Best of luck, coach!  

1 illinifan wrote on June 26, 2013 at 10:06 pm

How embarrassing! Cannot even keep awesome Illini coaches. Thomas is an idiot, hires Beckman, then loses a high caliber alumni coach that brought a lot of great attention and athletes to our program and school.

lasmith12 wrote on July 01, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Best wishes to Tonja Buford-Bailey. She has given a lot back to the University and has represented to the University well over the years, as a NCAA champion, Olympic medalist, Olympic coach and putting the women's team back in the national spotlight. 

I wish the University could afford to pay her more, but I'm happy for her and her family. From everything I've read and heard, Austin is a great place to live.

JoeCOOL wrote on July 02, 2013 at 9:07 am
Profile Picture

TB-B, Congrats on new job and relocation for your family. Thanks for what you did as an Illini athlete and coach.  Don’t let VJ leave off the Orange & Blue over Burnt Orange when recruitment for class of 2017 kicks in.  He will be missed in the Urbana Tigers Hoop program. 

'88-Tiger Pride