Illinois orders new investigation into alleged player mistreatment
The University of Illinois has commissioned an independent investigation to review its own examination of alleged player mistreatment in the Illini women's basketball program, according to The News-Gazette.
Earlier this month, families of three players wrote letters to the Chicago Tribune and Daily Illini accusing head coach Matt Bollant of verbal and emotional abuse and associate coach Mike Divilbiss of "sexual inappropriateness."
The letters claim Bollant and Divilbiss "created racial tension among players by derogatorily noting the race of Illini players and opponents and attributing racial stereotypes to each," according to the Tribune. The letters allege, among other details, that several black players were referred to by current staff as "crabs," and that other coaches "considered having separate practices for African-American players," the Tribune report said.
The university's internal investigation found no violation of university, NCAA or legal rules. Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise and athletic director Mike Thomas decided to initiate a formal independent review of the school's investigation "because of the seriousness of the allegations," a university spokesperson told The News-Gazette.
Earlier this month, former Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic accused football head coach Tim Beckman of forcing him to play through injuries and other forms of abuse. The Illini also recently published a story which featured other former players alleging mistreatment under Beckman.
On Tuesday, Thomas announced "immediate steps" to prioritize student-athlete health, according to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg. Those steps include weekly meetings between athletes and administrators, regular meetings with Thomas and sport leaders, and a new ombudsman for student athletes.
- Stanley Kay and Molly Geary