Illinois fires head coach Tim Beckman for pressuring injured players to play
Illinois has fired head coach Tim Beckman with cause, citing preliminary results of an external review into allegations involving the program, the school announced Friday.
SI.com's Thayer Evans reported news of Beckman’s dismissal. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has been named interim head coach for the 2015 season.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said in a statement that during a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers, 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.”
Beckman, Thomas and others at Illinois have been the target of complaints and two lawsuits by former athletes alleging abusive treatment within the football program. In May, former Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic wrote a lengthy series of tweets accusing Beckman of forcing him to play through injuries and other forms of “abuse and misuse of power.” Cvijanovic also responded on Twitter on Friday to Beckman's firing.
“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 in the statement. “During the review, we have asked people not to rush to judgment, but I now have enough information to make this decision in assessing the status and direction of the football program.”
Thomas also said in some instances players 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.”
Beckman, 50, was hired as Illinois’ coach in 2012. Over four seasons, he coached the Fighting Illini to a 12–25 record (4–20 Big Ten) and one bowl berth, a loss in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Beckman will not receive the $3.1 million remaining on the last two years of his five-year contract or his $743,000 buyout.
Illinois begins the season Sept. 4 vs. Kent State.
- Mike Fiammetta