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updated: 1/23/2014 4:57 PM

Illinois gives athletic director a raise

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Associated Press

University of Illinois trustees have raised Urbana-Champaign campus Athletic Director Mike Thomas' base salary and extended his contract.

Trustees voted Thursday to increase Thomas' annual pay to $554,320 and extend his deal three years through August 2019. Thomas was being paid $503,928 after he was hired in 2011 at $475,000 a year.

The recommendation for Thomas' raise praised him for selling the naming rights of the basketball arena to State Farm Insurance Co. for $60 million to help pay for the $165 million renovation. Thomas also hired head football coach Tim Beckman and men's basketball coach John Groce.

Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise backed Thomas' raise.

The vote was unanimous, but Trustee James Montgomery at an earlier meeting said the university needed to discuss high spending on sports.

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