Illini AD Really Has The Sads About Michigan Winning B1G Title
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Illini AD Really Has The Sads About Michigan Winning B1G Title

Illinois AD Josh Whitman posted that he had campaigned with the B1G but they did not win the Big Ten Championship due to Michigan’s better winning percentage.

To the Illini Family,

For several weeks, I have been in ongoing conversations with Big Ten colleagues and officials about the methodology we are using to determine the men’s basketball regular-season champion – discussions that have only intensified since the final horn sounded in the Michigan-Michigan State game on Sunday afternoon. Despite our university’s best efforts to achieve an equitable outcome that fairly recognizes the performance of our men’s basketball team, we know now that nothing will change.

In basketball, I believe teams deserve the title “conference champion” when they have proven themselves to be superior to their peers through their on-court performance for the duration of the season. In normal years, teams play the same number of games, making this an apples-to-apples, objective evaluation. Unfortunately for all of us, this is not that year. This year, we have many elite teams, including two that finished their seasons with 16-4 and 14-3 records, respectively. The 15% difference in the number of games played presents an apples-to-oranges comparison that is not easily resolved.

Our request was simple: in a year unlike any other, do what we have shown a willingness to do repeatedly during the past 12 months – act in the best interests of our student-athletes, pivot when needed, and do the right thing. In a year where, because of the different numbers of games played, we cannot fairly distinguish one team from another, declare Michigan and Illinois co-champions of the regular season. It was a straightforward solution to a complicated problem.

We should not have had to advocate for ourselves – this is the right outcome for the Big Ten and one that it should have proactively sought. But nonetheless, we were left to fight our own battle, and despite our advocacy, I learned late yesterday that our efforts were unsuccessful.  Michigan will remain outright champions.

To be clear, we have not endeavored to take anything away from Michigan. They have compiled an exceptional season and deserve the championship they have already had the pleasure of celebrating. They are the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and I expect they will make a deep run in the national tournament. They earned their title, and we are not looking to diminish their accomplishments.

But Illinois earned that title as well. Co-champions are the norm in the Big Ten. As a league, four times in the last 15 years we have celebrated multiple champions, including just last season, when three teams lifted banners in their buildings. Having talked to people involved in those celebrations, knowing that another school is getting fitted for rings does nothing to minimize the moment and the memory.

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