By Joseph G. Phillips
The University of Illinois Fighting Illini fired head coach Lovie Smith on Sunday, December 13, after four seasons with the institution.
Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement, Smith led the Illinois football program with unquestioned integrity during his nearly five years of service.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach Smith and will always be grateful to him for providing a steady, experienced hand at a time when our program required stability,” said Whitman. “His unshakeable leadership, never more needed than during this pandemic, will be forever remembered.”
Smith was hired during the 2016 season after going 81-63 as head coach of the Bears. During his nine-year tenure with the team, Smith won three division titles and one NFC Championship.
Smith led the Bears to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history and went 3-3 in playoff games.