Athletic Director Mike Thomas responds to Illinois women's basketball allegations
May 19, 2015
Director of athletics Mike Thomas responded to allegations about the Illinois women’s basketball team on Tuesday.
“Obviously it’s a very serious allegation,” Thomas said to The Daily Illini. “Anytime those things are brought to the surface and brought to my attention, we get the campus involved including the Chancellor’s office, and we deal with those appropriately including this particular situation.”
Thomas, who was joined with Robin Kaler, campus spokeswoman and Kent Brown, associate athletic director for media relations, said the first time he was made aware of the situation surrounding the women’s basketball team was when he received the letters in late April from the Grant, Gleason and Tuck families.
“There weren’t any signs related to either of these situations that it would say that there were serious concerns or issues, and I think no different than a lot of campuses and athletic programs, these things come to the surface now and then,” Thomas said. “It’s unfortunate that at the end of the day, but the facts of the matter are it is how you go about dealing with those situations.”
On Monday, The Daily Illini initially reported allegations of student-athlete abuse and mistreatment from head coach Matt Bollant and now-former associate head coach, Mike Divilbiss. The allegations were spotlighted through three letters addressed to Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Thomas, from the families of former players Jacqui Grant, Taylor Gleason and Taylor Tuck. The letters showcased issues with mishandling injuries, racism and player abuse from Bollant and Divilbiss.
Kaler said the review into the program has ended, and it was determined that no NCAA violations took place.
However, Kaler said the allegations regarding Taylor Gleason’s injury that were raised in the letters are still being investigated, and have been paired with recent allegations from former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic against Illinois football head coach Tim Beckman and the football program.
The Chicago-based law firm, Franczek Radelet, is now reviewing both cases, with no timeline in place from the University, according to Kaler.
Thomas said the department will handle the situation when the review is concluded from Franczek Radelet.
“When we receive the findings, anytime there is a serious allegation, and there is a opportunity for us to grow and get better, we will absolutely take advantage of that opportunity,” Thomas said.
For now, Thomas said the goal of the athletic department remains the same.
“We take pride and integrity in our program so we take any allegations to the contrary very seriously,” Thomas said. “Student-athlete well-being, the health and safety of our student-athletes is primary to our mission.”