Tim Beckman: Illinois coach Fired For Forcing Players To Play Through Injury

Tim Beckman : Illinois coach Fired For Forcing Players To Play Through Injury

Tim Beckman beamed earlier this week as he stood outside of Memorial Stadium in Champaign, enthusiastically discussing his preparation for the 2015 season as Illinois’ head football coach.

By the end of the week, he no longer held that job.

The university fired Beckman on Friday for mishandling athletes’ injuries, including instances in which he allegedly encouraged hurt players to avoid medical treatment in order to keep playing.

Athletic director Mike Thomas cited preliminary results of an external review of the program as the reason for move.

Thomas said the timing is unfortunate with the season one week away. But based on preliminary findings, he said, it was in the best interests of student-athletes to act now rather than when a final report is issued and publicly released, which likely will occur during the season.

“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.”

A final report is forthcoming but the university has apparently seen enough.

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.

“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.”