Brad Underwood bolts for Illinois after loss to Michigan

Oklahoma State lost narrowly to Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and then lost their first—year head coach Brad Underwood.

Underwood unexpectedly quit OSU and took a job as head coach of The University of Illinois basketball team.

Representatives from OSU and Illinois and Underwood have not said why he made such an abrupt switch but pay could have been a big factor. Underwood made $1 million at OSU, making him perhaps the lowest paid coach in the Big 12 Conference. It has been reported that his new contract with Illinois is for five years at $2.75 million a year.

OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder reportedly had planned a meeting with Underwood to discuss a contract renegotiation following 20-win season and an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Underwood had revived a somewhat dormant Cowboy fan base and had made glowing statements about the future of the program just a week before he quit. The Cowboys were 12-20 the year before he arrived.

Under the terms of his contract, Illinois will have to pay millions of dollars for his release from OSU.

Holder said the search for a new coach has already started. The name of former OSU star Doug Gottlieb, who is a television commentator with no head coaching experience has been mentioned. Gottlieb was reportedly high on the list of candidates last year when Underwood was hired.

Jawun Evans scored 23 points and added 12 assists and seven rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season in Oklahoma State’s 92-91 loss to Michigan in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

Jeffrey Carroll scored 19 points for his 28th double-figure scoring game of the year. Phil Forte added 12 points, seven of which came in the second half for his 95th career double-figure scoring game and his 25th of the season.

Davon Dillard had 19 points for the Cowboys while Leyton Hammonds had 10.