Tuesday May 12th, 2015

Illinois head coach Tim Beckman responded to claims of "abuse and misuse of power" from a former player on Tuesday, saying he was disappointed the ex-player took to Twitter to voice his concerns. 

The former Illini offensive lineman, Simon Cvijanovic, accused Beckman of forcing him to play through injuries and other forms of abuse in a long series of tweets sent on Sunday and Monday. 

Cvijanovic, a three-year starter at offensive tackle, missed the last four games of last season after injuring his knee in the Illini's game against Ohio State on Nov. 1. He has exhausted his NCAA eligibility. 

Cvijanovic said he met with Beckman in his office Friday to question why he was not invited to the team's end of year banquet and also was not invited to attend the team's bowl game. 

Ex-Illinois OL accuses Tim Beckman of 'abuse and misuse of power'

On Tuesday, Beckman released a statement to the media. 

"Coach Beckman has chosen not to talk publicly at this time. 

"I am disappointed that a former Fighting Illini player has chosen this path to air his concerns. I have been overwhelmed by the support shown by the student-athletes and the parents who are are (sic) currently in our program, along with many former players. It is truly humbling. We'll continue to treat the players in our program, current and former, like family as we continue to move forward."

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Also on Tuesday, the Daily Illini published a story in which other former players alleged mistreatment at the hands of Beckman. Former Illini defensive back Nick North said Beckman "takes the cake as the worst coach I ever met." 

North's family told the Chicago Tribune that Beckman tried to pressure North into signing a release from his scholarship.

"Despite the mistreatment and harassment and not letting him play, he still got his degree," Willis North, Nick's father, told the Tribune. "He was healthy and they still wouldn't let him play. They were trying to corner him and tell him, 'You're injured, so you need to sign this letter so we can use this spot for someone else.'"

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said Monday that Beckman "always put the welfare" of Cvijanovic "above everything else" during the former offensive lineman's time in the program. 

Beckman released a statement Sunday calling Cvijanovic a "valued member of the University of Illinois football team" and saying the school had supported him throughout the spring semester with medical care and an academic scholarship. 

- Stanley Kay

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