Illinois hires Cincinnati AD to replace Guenther

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- University of Cincinnati athletic director Mike Thomas will be the next AD at the University of Illinois.

Illinois officials announced the decision at a news conference on campus Wednesday.

Thomas, who is 51, comes to Illinois after running Cincinnati's athletics program since 2005. He hired football coach Brian Kelly, who led the team to a 34-6 record and two Big East titles before leaving for Notre Dame.

Thomas will replace Ron Guenther, who retired this summer.

One issue ahead will be plans to expand Assembly Hall. Many Illinois fans have also complained about the men's basketball team's performance the past two seasons. And football coach Ron Zook is just one winning season removed from talk that he might be fired.

Thomas is a graduate of Colorado State and Western Illinois.