Keep that short list handy.

Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens denied rumors Friday that he was contacted about the vacancy at Illinois, according to ESPN, after a Rivals.com report said Illinois' interest in Stevens is high but there has not yet been an offer.

CHAMPAIGN -- Keep that short list handy.

Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens denied rumors Friday that he was contacted about the vacancy at Illinois, according to ESPN, after a Rivals.com report said Illinois' interest in Stevens is high but there has not yet been an offer.

"There is absolutely no truth to it,'' he told ESPN. "I have not been contacted.''

Stevens also said the school hadn't reached out to any of his representatives.

"If they have, I don't know anything about it,'' he said. "Nobody has called me.''

Stevens said he spent the day in individual meetings, went fishing and made chalk drawings on the driveway with his daughter.

"I came in with all this fishing gear on, and my wife told me my phone was blowing up,'' he said.

VCU coach Shaka Smart already turned down an Illini offer earlier this week.

Stevens guided the north side Indianapolis mid-major program to the NCAA title game the past two seasons, and the 34-year-old former pharmaceuticals marketing man worked his way up the ladder at Butler. He's considered a rising star nationally, but Stevens would surprise his colleagues if he made the jump from Butler to Illinois, they said earlier in the day.

A college head coach in the Midwest said Stevens told him last year that he wouldn't leave Butler for Illinois.

One college assistant coach with ties to Butler said he would be "stunned'' if Stevens left for Illinois.

The world is changing for Butler. The Bulldogs saw two players leave early for the NBA draft over the past two years, and this season ended with a 68-62 overtime semifinal loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday in the unheralded College Basketball Invitational, i.e., the next step down from the NIT.

Butler finished 22-15 overall and tied for third in the Horizon League with an 11-7 record. The Bulldogs return the bulk of the team for next season.

Meanwhile, Butler is seriously considering a move from the Horizon to the Atlantic 10 Conference.
It's not the first time a BCS school has shown interest in Stevens. He turned down an offer from Oregon two years ago, and he's been a hot property ever since losing 61-59 to Duke in the 2010 national title game.

Butler lost 53-41 to Connecticut in the championship game last season.

It was suggested that perhaps this year's fall to the CBI reminded Stevens that a star's shine can be dulled quickly. He told the New York Daily News watching March Madness is getting to him.

"It's killing me,''' he told the newspaper. "I can't stand watching it, but I watch it like an addict. That's part of it. We've had our great opportunities. It's really hard to get into the tournament, especially when you're a non-BCS school. We just have to find a way to be a little better than we were in the regular season.''

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSupinie.