Former Saluki A.D. Takes Over U of I Athletics on an Interim Basis

Nov 9, 2015

The University of Illinois is spending millions to part ways with its athletic director.

The university announced it’s firing Mike Thomas, not because he did anything wrong, but because his presence is a distraction.

U of I is paying $2.5 million to buy out Thomas’s contract, that’s money that comes from the athletic fund, which includes ticket sales, media rights and other sources – not state money.

Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk has been appointed to take over in the interim.

“These are challenging circumstances under which to assume the mantle. I have the utmost respect for Mike Thomas, this is an outstanding institution. I’m going to take the helm at this point, try to calm the waters and ride the boat through the calm.”

Kowalczyk served as the Director of Athletics at SIU-Carbondale from 2000-2006.

The university’s been accused of mistreating players in the football and women’s basketball programs, the latter of which drew a lawsuit also alleging racial bias. Chancellor Barbara Wilson says a campus-led investigation found no wrong doing on Mike Thomas’s part.