CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois fired coach Tim Beckman one week before the start of the season Friday, saying preliminary results of an investigation found some truth to allegations of player mistreatment and inappropriate behavior.
Athletic director Mike Thomas said the timing is unfortunate, but “it was in the best interests of student-athletes to act now.” Thomas said the final report would not be publicly released until during the season.
The Illini face Kent State at home Sept. 4 to start the season. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has been named interim coach.
Thomas said during a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers handling the investigation, he learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries. Thomas also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren’t on the team.
Former starting lineman Simon Cvijanovic complained first on Twitter on May 9 and in numerous interviews that Beckman and his staff had tried to shame him into playing hurt misled him about medical procedures following a knee injury.
“All I can say right now is I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he told The Associated Press by phone after learning Beckman had been fired. “It seems like there’s more than just Beckman that needs to be held accountable.”
Beckman was 12-25 at Illinois, improving the team’s record each season. The Illini went 6-7 last year.