Beckman denies Illinois probe's findings, hints at lawsuit

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Fire Illinois football coach Tim Beckman says the findings of an investigation indicating he interfered with medical procedures and pressured players to play hurt are ''utterly false'' and suggested he might take legal action.

In a statement released to The Associated Press after he was fired on Friday, Beckman also said the decision to fire him violated his contract. He said he will ''vigorously defend both my reputation and my legal rights.''

Athletic Ddirector Mike Thomas fired Beckman a week before the start of the football season. Thomas said the preliminary results of an investigation into alleged mistreatment of athletes found enough reason to fire Beckman.

Former starting lineman Simon Cvijanovic sparked the investigation when he complained that Beckman and his staff had tried to shame him into playing hurt.

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