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ISU to fire men’s basketball coach Dan Muller at end of the season

Carleigh Gray
WGLT file photo
In 10 seasons as the head coach at Illinois State, Dan Muller has amassed a 167-150 record and coached the Redbirds to a share of the 2017 MVC regular-season title. But the Redbird men haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Illinois State University Athletics said Sunday that this season will be Dan Muller’s last as men’s basketball coach.

Just hours before the Super Bowl, ISU Athletics issued a statement that Muller would be fired at the end of the current 2021-22 season. He’ll remain as coach through the end of the season.

Muller's dismissal also comes one day after the Redbirds surrendered the final 11 points in a 60-57 loss to Indiana State, a defeat that likely ensured Illinois State would have to play in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on March 3 in St. Louis.

Muller has two years left on a seven-year contract extension he signed in 2017, which gave him a raise. ISU said “the terms of Muller's contract will be honored,” meaning Muller will get a $1 million payout. His contract calls for a $500,000 payout for each year left on his contract if Muller is fired. (His annual salary is at least $564,000.) The contract allows for ISU to fire Muller without cause as long as it gives 30 days' notice.

“Given the contract requirement of 30-day notice, it was imperative to make a timely decision to begin the search process for a new coach,” ISU Athletics Director Kyle Brennan said Sunday. “This will allow us to find the best candidate and provide them with the time necessary to recruit prior to the upcoming April signing period.”

Brennan said “announcing a head coaching change during a season is a difficult decision I don't take lightly, especially with a coach who has given so much of his life to ISU and Redbird Athletics with integrity, passion and commitment.”

“I believe this is what is best for our current student-athletes and the future of the program," Brennan added. "We have not been performing at a consistent level and we have not seen the continued growth needed to get back into contention in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).”

There were high hopes when Muller was hired in 2012, that he would bring the Redbirds back to the NCAA Tournament like he did during his Hall of Fame playing career with the Redbirds.

But Coach Muller never made it back to the tournament. In fact, ISU has the longest NCAA Tournament drought in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Redbirds haven’t been in the tourney since 1998, which was Muller’s final year as a player.

In 10 seasons as the head coach at Illinois State, Muller has amassed a 167-150 record and coached the Redbirds to a share of the 2017 MVC regular-season title. ISU is currently 11-15 overall and 4-9 in the MVC, and has lost 6 of their last 7.

ISU says a “comprehensive, national search” for a new head coach will begin immediately. There is no set timeline to make a hire.

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Local News Illinois State UniversityDan Muller
Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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