"It was important to see improvement in our football program this season," Thomas said. "Over the last month, we have won three of our last five games, including a pair of Big Ten wins over teams (Minnesota & Penn State) who are headed to the postseason. Our student-athletes have played their best football of the season down the stretch of a tough schedule that included nine bowl-eligible opponents. It's my expectation that with the upcoming bowl and another off-season of development, that Tim's continued leadership will keep Fighting Illini Football moving forward and even more competitive in the conference and nationally."
Illinois finished 6-6 (3-5 Big Ten) after beating Northwestern on Saturday to become bowl-eligible. Whichever bowl the Fighting Illini play in will be their first since 2011, when they beat UCLA in the Fight Hunger Bowl. In that season, Illinois started 6-0, but finished 6-6, costing head coach Ron Zook his job.
Beckman was hired the following season after three seasons as the Toledo head coach.
Over his three seasons at Illinois, Beckman is 12-24. The Illini started slowly in Big Ten play, losing five of their first six conference games, before defeating Penn State and Northwestern to become bowl eligible.
- Mike Fiammetta