Illinois football coach abruptly fired after school finds he pressured players to play hurt

Tim Beckman has been dismissed as the University of Illinois’ football coach, the University’s athletic department announced in a release today.

It’s a huge chock.

According to the school’s statement, Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas fired Beckman after an external review found that Beckman “pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries.” The review also found that Beckman treated players inappropriately with regard to whether or not they could stay on scholarship during the spring of their senior seasons if they weren’t on the team.

From the statement:

“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.”

It’s extremely rare for a team to fire a coach before the start of a season, but after interviewing more than 90 players and reviewing over 200,000 documents, the University felt they had no other choice.

“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. “I expect my coaches to protect players and foster their success on and off the field.”

According to the the release, Beckman will not receive the $US3.1 million remaining on the last two years of his original five-year contract, or the $US743,000 due to him if his contract had been bought out. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has been named interim head coach.

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