Tim Beckman is gone at Illinois roughly four months before everyone figured he would be fired, as an external review of the program found that Beckman forced players back from injury early and attempted to circumvent standard medical procedures.
The full review isn't out yet, but among other things, the initial findings from the investigation were enough to fire Beckman with cause, meaning he won't receive a buyout or any money from the rest of his contract:
During a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers, Thomas said 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. He also said in some instances student-athletes 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.
These allegations first came to light when former Illinois lineman Simon Cvijanovic blasted Beckman on Twitter in May. Now that those allegations turned out to be true, and with more details likely to come out, Illinois has a lot of problems on its hands — not the least of which is that Cvijanovic also accused interim coach Bill Cubit of forcing him to stop taking antidepressants.
Illinois football and the entire university are in a state of mayhem, and the list of problems gets longer by the day.
- The long term problem is that athletic director Mike Thomas might not be the guy to hire the new coach. Thomas has had a tumultuous tenure as athletic director, with the botched hiring of Beckman and the hiring of basketball coach John Groce, who could be on the hot seat soon, as well. And if Thomas does somehow make it through this year, what coach is going to want to work for an athletic director on the hot seat?
- It's not just athletics: Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned in early August after an awful year.
- Illinois women's basketball players alleged that coach Matt Bollant and his staff were abusive and racist, threatening to hold separate practices for black players.
- In general, Illinois has not had a very good football program since the miraculous Rose Bowl team in 2007. Beckman hardly ever beat Northwestern (or really anyone else) for recruits and the program doesn't have close to the resources Big Ten West foes Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa do.
- Did we mention that Bill Cubit allegedly forced Cvijanovic off antidepressants? Yeah? Well, the investigation isn't over yet, and considering that Cvijanovic's other allegations turned out to be true, there's reason to think Cubit might not make it through the season. Obviously, that's speculation — but it's a possibility worth considering.
Illinois athletics is a dumpster fire right now. It doesn't have to be, and it won't always be, but to be in the same conference as Rutgers and still have the most issues in your league is pretty bad. Earlier this week, when an Illinois player tweeted this:
It's Lit pic.twitter.com/u0hEyvPT0d— Julian Jones (@BigPlayJay_44) August 25, 2015
That was back when the only things plaguing Illinois were a lame duck football coach, a lame duck athletic director, allegations of abuse in both football and women's basketball and a resigning chancellor.
Time to add something else to the list.