Bruce Weber’s classy gesture to Illinois fans

Bruce Weber has a message for the Illinois fan base that helped run him out of Champaign last month after his Illini missed the NCAA tournament three of the past five seasons.

Believe it or not, it's "thank you."

Weber, who has since been hired by Kansas State to replace Frank Martin, delivered his message to Illinois fans via a full-page ad in Sunday's Champaign News Gazette. The ad features Illinois and Kansas State logos separated by a basketball that houses the following message: "Thanks to everyone in the Illini Nation for a memorable nine years. GO ILLINI & GO CATS! Coach Bruce Weber."

The advertisement is proof Weber deserves his reputation as one of the classiest coaches in college basketball. Not many coaches would make such a gesture after leaving a program on good terms, let alone less than a month after being fired.

Weber compiled a 210-101 overall record in nine seasons at Illinois, but he won just two NCAA tournament games after leading the Illini to the national title game in 2005. By the time his team was midway through a stretch of 12 losses in 14 games to end this season, Weber's fate was a near foregone conclusion.

Perhaps the breakup between Weber and Illinois will end up being a positive for both sides. Illinois has an up-and-coming young presence in former Ohio coach John Groce and Weber gets a fresh start at Kansas State with plenty of talent still on the roster.

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