Illinois rewards Underwood with 3-year contract extension

<p>
              Illinois head coach Brad Underwood talks to his team as they take on Indiana in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Holly Hart)
            </p>

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois rewarded basketball coach Brad Underwood for a significant jump this season with a three-year contract extension through 2026, the school announced Monday.

The move comes with the Illini challenging for the Big Ten Conference championship in Underwood’s third season. They are ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25, are 20-9 overall and are tied for second in conference play with Michigan State and Wisconsin at 12-6 — a game behind Maryland. Illinois went 14-18 and 12-21 in Underwood’s first two seasons.

Underwood signed a six-year contract in 2017 when he left Oklahoma State after leading the Cowboys to a 20-13 record and the NCAA Tournament in his lone season. He led Stephen F. Austin to an 89-14 mark and three NCAA tourney appearances from 2013-16.

Underwood’s extension is pending approval by the university’s Board of Trustees at its meeting on March 12. The school also announced extensions through 2022 for his assistants.