UPDATED: Beckman dismissed, Cubit to serve as interim

By Peter Bailey-Wells

Tim Beckman’s days of leading the Illinois football program onto the field at Memorial Stadium are over — he has been fired.

The three-year career of Illinois’ head football coach came to an end Friday when Athletic Director Mike Thomas announced Beckman had been dismissed.

Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit was named as the interim head coach. The Illini begin their season Sept. 4 at home against Kent State.

During a preliminary review from external reviewers on the football program, Thomas said he has learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions, prompting players to continue playing or postpone medical treatment.

Thomas said players were also “treated inappropriately” as to if they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year.

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“Both of those findings are unsettling violations of University policy and practice and do not reflect the culture that we wish to create in athletic programs for our young people,” Thomas said.

Beckman was the target of a serious of accusatory tweets sent out in late May by former Illini offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic.

Cvijanovic alleged that Beckman emotionally abused players, allowed mistreatment of injuries and held scholarships over player’s heads.

Other former Illini and Toledo players who had played under Beckman followed Cvijanovic’s accusations with claims they had been subject to mistreatment or witnessed other players being mistreated.

In response to the allegations, former Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Thomas announced an independent investigation into Beckman’s behavior as the head coach.

“The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I’ve chosen to act accordingly,” Thomas said. “During the review, we have asked people not to rush to judgment, but I now have enough information to make this decision in assessing the status and direction of the football program.”

The investigation is ongoing and being handled by Chicago law firm Franczek Radelet. More than 90 individuals have been interviewed, 20,000 documents were reviewed and a large volume of practice and games videos were watched.

Before arriving at Illinois, Beckman coached for three seasons at Toledo. In his final season with the Rockets, Beckman won five conference games, more than he has won total in his three seasons at Illinois.

Thomas said the timing of the firing was “unfortunate.” Beckman will not receive the final $3.1 million of his contract or the $753,000 for if his contract had been bought out.

Beckman went 12-25 in his three seasons at Illinois. He couldn’t secure a winning record in any of the three seasons, but brought the Illini to the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2014 following a 6-6 regular season.

Cubit’s appointment will be voted on at a Board of Trustee’s meeting on Sept. 10. Thomas said the review showed no findings related to Cubit.

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