- Tim Beckman dismissed one week before the start of the season
- External probe found medical misconduct, scholarship misuse
University of Illinois football coach Tim Beckman was fired one week before the start of the season after an external investigation found that he tried to hide injuries, influenced medical decisions and mishandled scholarships.
Athletic Director Mike Thomas said today in a release that while the findings of the review were preliminary, they were definitive enough to warrant an immediate decision. Beckman won’t receive the final $3.1 million remaining on the last two years of his contract, nor his $743,000 buyout.
“The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I’ve chosen to act accordingly,” Thomas said today.
Thomas said he met with players and staff Friday to tell them of his decision. Bill Cubit, the team’s offensive coordinator, will be the interim head coach for the 2015 season.
The investigation into Beckman began after a May Twitter rant from former lineman Simon Cvijanovic, who accused the coach of abusing power and urging him to play through injuries. Some Illini players defended Beckman on Twitter, while others seconded Cvijanovic’s comments.
Two days later, Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, sent a letter to Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise asking for a publicly released independent investigation.
Speaking at the Big Ten media day last month, Beckman declined to specifically address the accusations. He said doctors make decisions about player health and that he viewed his role as a father figure.
“We want the best,” Beckman told reporters. “We want a relationship for a lifetime as we talk to them. We want to be able to communicate with one another throughout their lives. So, as a football coach and as being the part of a football program, I think those are very essential parts of leading young men.”
Conducted by the Chicago-based Franczek Radelet law firm, preliminary results of the review showed efforts by Beckman to deter injury reporting and pressure on athletes to avoid medical treatment so they could continue playing. It also found that he mistreated seniors in regard to their scholarships.
“Both of those findings are unsettling violations of university policy and practice and do not reflect the culture that we wish to create in athletic programs for our young people,” Thomas said. “I expect my coaches to protect players and foster their success on and off the field.”
The review remains ongoing, Thomas said. So far more than 90 people have been interviewed and 200,000 documents have been reviewed, along with practice and game footage from Beckman’s tenure.
Beckman was 12-25 in three years with the Illini, with one bowl appearance. Under his leadership the team was 4-20 in Big Ten play.