Illinois extends Smith through 2023 season

Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Lovie Smith walks across the field before the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on Oct. 28.Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois handed head coach Lovie Smith a two-year contract extension, the school announced Sunday.

The new deal pushed Smith’s agreement with the Fighting Illini through the 2023 season.

Smith, who signed a six-year contract worth $21 million in 2016, has posted a 9-27 record in three seasons with Illinois. The Fighting Illini concluded a 4-8 season with a 24-16 loss to No. 20 Northwestern on Saturday, just a week after a disastrous 63-0 setback to Iowa.

“We recognize that our work is far from finished, with improvement needed in every phase of our program’s development, but our plan is sound and our resolve is stronger than ever,” Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a release Sunday. “As I have said on many occasions, stability and continuity are key to building a foundation that will yield long-term success.”

Smith was appreciative of the vote of confidence.

“The University of Illinois is an incredible place to coach and teach,” Smith said in a statement. “We love living here in Champaign-Urbana and representing our state’s flagship institution. We will continue working every day as we move our football program forward.

“Our new football performance center, the Smith Football Center, which will be completed next summer, will be among the best in the nation. I want to thank Josh Whitman and Chancellor Robert Jones for continuing to believe in what we are working to accomplish. Those of us around the program see the progress being made each and every day and we expect to be competing for championships very soon. Our incredible fans and everyone on our campus deserve nothing less.”

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