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Illinois Willing To Spend Big To Get Shaka Smart As Its Next Basketball Coach

Virginia Commonwealth men's basketball coach Shaka Smart is a hot commodity in the world of college basketball right now. The University of Illinois has taken notice, and a report from the Chicago Sun-Times says the Illini are pulling out all the stops to sign lure Smart away from the Rams.

Money will not be a problem for Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas. The source cited in the Sun-Times report says, "they're going to make damn sure they don't let him get away."

That would include a buyout of Smart's current contract with VCU, who signed an eight-year deal worth around $1.21 million per year after taking VCU all the way to the Final Four in 2011. A buyout could cost Illinois some $800,000 per year.

Illinois could offer Smart a multi-year deal out of VCU's price range. A number mentioned in the report says $2.5 million annually.

For more on Shaka Smart and the Illinois basketball coaching search, visit SB Nation's Illini blog Hail To The Orange.