Urbana, Ill. — Josh Whitman was approved Feb. 29 as director of athletics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during a special meeting of the U. of I. Board of Trustees Executive Committee.
Whitman, a two-degree graduate of the Urbana campus and a former Illini football player, was named athletic director Feb. 17 by Interim Chancellor Barbara J. Wilson, pending approval by the trustees. The three-member Executive Committee meets as needed to consider business on behalf of the board.
His appointment as his alma mater’s 14th director of athletics is effective March 5 and his first full day on the job will be March 21, following nearly six years as athletic director at two universities where his teams won four NCAA national titles and 35 conference championships.
Whitman, 37, has served as athletic director at Washington University in St. Louis since 2014, leading a nationally recognized program whose 500 student-athletes combined for a 3.35 GPA and 99 percent graduation rate. Earlier, he served as athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse; practiced law in Washington, D.C.; and served as a judicial clerk in the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
He was a four-year starting tight end and two-time Academic All-American for the Illini and later spent parts of four years in the National Football League with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Urbana campus in 2001, with Bronze Tablet honors, and graduated summa cum laude from the U. of I. College of Law in 2008.
Whitman succeeds Mike Thomas, who was dismissed in November. Paul Kowalczyk served as interim athletic director and will return to his duties as senior associate athletic director.