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Illinois fires AD Mike Thomas, releases results from investigation into football misconduct

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Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Illinois has dismissed Athletic Director Mike Thomas on Monday, just months after firing head football coach Tim Beckman. Illinois also released a 1000-plus page report detailing misconduct within the school's football program.

Here are the major points of the investigation, courtesy of SB Nation's Kevin Trahan:

  • Beckman said he "does not believe in hamstring injuries."
  • Beckman would call a player "pussy," "sissy" or "soft" when they left to get injury assistance from trainers.
  • Beckman pressured trainers to prematurely clear players from injuries.
  • One one occasion, Beckman said, "I don't care if you're hurt, everyone is practicing when we get back. No one cares if you're hurt, I don't care. Your family may care. Northwestern doesn't care."
  • Beckman got in the way of a potential life-threatening injury: "Two physicians confronted coach Beckman during the 2012 season after a player went down with a potential spinal injury. The sports medicine staff evaluating the player report that they did not want the player to move as they were stabilizing his spine and holding the player's head still, but coach Beckman reportedly inserted himself to tell the player to turn his head to look at coach Beckman so that he could tell the player that he was going to be fine."
  • Beckman also disregarded concussion protocol: "A team physician recalled taking a player for evaluation who was stumbling around and confused after a big hit in a game, and coach Beckman interjecting before the evaluation was complete stating to the player "hey, you're ready to play, you're okay."

Northwestern was mentioned at multiple points in the report:

"To promote team unity and further motivate players, Coach Beckman promoted the football team's rivalry with the Northwestern University football team in a variety of symbolic ways pictured below.

illclock

"Coach Beckman prominently displayed the above countdown clock, which tracked the time remaining before the annual game against Northwestern."

Here's another one:

no ncat

"The above sign depicting a Northwestern logo in a circle with a line through it was hung in multiple prominent locations, including the athletic training room. Players who lost competitive drills during winter training sessions were called "cats" and required to wear purple jerseys for the remainder of the practice sessions. Players too injured to participate at all in football practice were also required to wear purple jerseys while engaged in rehabilitation/conditioning workouts. Coach Beckman explained that the purpose of the purple jerseys was to motivate players to work hard to return to the pride of wearing Illinois' orange or white colors during practice. Coach Beckman explained that he patterned this after other football programs."

Here's a footnote associated with the above section:

"Some players complained that Coach Beckman's requirement that injured players wear purple jerseys and placement of an anti-Northwestern sign in the athletic training room improperly communicated to players that being injured or seeking medical treatment was the equivalent of being a hated rival, at least to Coach Beckman. The vast majority of players, coaches, and sports medicine staff interviewed dismissed any such notions and reported no concern or even interest in either issue. Instead, witnesses interpreted these motivational tactics as meaningless. Players and other personnel involved with the Football Program reported long-standing familiarity with using a different color jersey for injured players in football programs, and the signs in question were placed in so many locations within the football team facilities that there was no perceived connection to injured status. We find that neither of these practices created any problem or contributed negatively to student-athlete welfare."

Northwestern plays Illinois and interim head coach Bill Cubit at Soldier Field on Nov. 28.