Illinois athletic director: Women's coach will be back

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois women's basketball coach Matt Bollant will be back next season even after a losing season and lawsuit filed by former players over their treatment, athletic director Josh Whitman said Wednesday.

Whitman said in a statement posted to his Twitter account that the 9-21 team did not meet expectations on the court, but praised coaches and players for dealing with ''extraordinarily challenging'' circumstances.

''I have concluded that our program operates with integrity and fosters an inclusive culture that is welcoming to talented students and basketball players of all backgrounds,'' Whitman said in the statement.

A university spokesman said Whitman's statement on Twitter would be his only comment.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in July by seven former players accused Bollant and former assistant coach Mike Divilbiss of creating a racially abusive environment, trying to force some unwanted black players and white players who supported them off the team and barring white and black players from rooming together. The suit also named the university and former athletic director Mike Thomas as defendants and is ongoing.

Bollant has denied wrongdoing and a law firm hired by the university to investigate the allegations concluded they were unfounded.

In four seasons at Illinois Bollant is 52-72. Only his first team finished with a winning record and none of his teams has been to the NCAA Tournament.

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