UPDATED 03/31/11 6:06 a.m.
NORMAN, Okla. (CBS) – A published report says Illini basketball coach Bruce Weber may be looking to leave for Oklahoma.
But Weber says in another published report that the news is “no real story.”
Quoting “a well-placed basketball source,” the Norman Transcript reported that Weber had “emerged as a viable candidate” for the top job with the Sooners.
The article pointed out that Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther’s contract expires at the end of June, and while Guenther had issued a statement supporting Weber’s future at the U of I, a new athletic director might not be so enthusiastic.
The Illini will also lose four starters next season. The only scholarship senior on next year’s team is likely to be point guard Sam Maniscalco, who intends to transfer from Bradley.
The Norman Transcript said Oklahoma had originally hoped to bring in Marquette coach Buzz Williams to replace Jeff Capel, whom Oklahoma fired on March 14. But Williams instead decided to finalize an extension to stay with Marquette, the Transcript reported.
But Weber has responded to the reports of his interest in going to Oklahoma by saying there is “no real story,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He said the talk amounted only to “lots of rumors.”
CBS 2’s Ryan Baker says via Twitter that Oklahoma did show interest in Weber, as did another school. But Baker says Weber is not leaving Illinois.
The Illini went 20-14 this season, and Weber said he saw the best the team had to offer over the season’s final weeks. It ended with an NCAA tournament win over UNLV and a competitive loss to No. 1-seed Kansas.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)