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Editorial: The cost of ending University scandals

Illinois+athletic+director+Mike+Thomas+reacts+after+a+misplaced+punt+during+the+game+against+Youngstown+State+at+Memorial+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Aug.+30%2C+2014.+The+Illini+won+28-17.
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Editorial: The cost of ending University scandals

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas reacts after a misplaced punt during the game against Youngstown State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. The Illini won 28-17.

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas reacts after a misplaced punt during the game against Youngstown State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. The Illini won 28-17.

Brenton Tse | Senior Photographe

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas reacts after a misplaced punt during the game against Youngstown State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. The Illini won 28-17.

Brenton Tse | Senior Photographe

Brenton Tse | Senior Photographe

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas reacts after a misplaced punt during the game against Youngstown State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. The Illini won 28-17.

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Some major checks are being written on campus, but it’s for the better.

On Monday, Athletic Director Mike Thomas was let go without cause, and the findings from the investigation into allegations of player mistreatment by the Illini football and women’s basketball teams were released.

The investigation says Thomas was not involved in any misconduct. Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said Thomas had too many “distractions” during his time at Illinois to maintain his employment. Since he was fired without cause, Thomas will be owed $2.5 million from the University for his severance.

In the midst of this, the Board of Trustees is also set to vote on a settlement with Steven Salaita. His appointment was rejected in August 2014 after posting a series of controversial tweets regarding conflict in Gaza. He went on to sue the University, stating his first amendment rights were violated.

The details for the settlement are unclear, but the board will vote on Thursday.

With the proposed state budget cuts already looming, the last thing we need is to be spending more. But if it’s going to take some spending to move on from the many controversies that have marred the University’s past year, these changes are for the best.

This could also make our campus more attractive for new potential employees to fill the abundance of interim positions currently available, as it will create a campus environment without a lawsuit hanging over its head and without a lawsuit facing its athletics.

The University is bigger than any one person or employee — especially proven by the many administrative shifts we’ve recently experienced — and the opportunity to further wipe the slate clean triumphs over the significant financial cost of these actions.

The funds to pay off Thomas will come from the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics budget, consisting of funding from media and donations — meaning doling out these funds will not impact academics and will not come from the taxpayers.

Still, it is unknown whether Salaita’s settlement will come in the form of funds or the reinstatement of his employment.

We now have an interim chancellor, interim provost, interim athletic director and interim head football coach. We cannot let a stalemate of interim leaders plague the campus – instead, the University should look ahead to see who could start anew in these positions so we can further our academic achievements, rather than spiral as a school with no constant leaders.

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