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Race factored into two nay votes on Beckman’s Illini deal

Tim Beckman AP

Normally, the approval of a head football coach’s contract, whether it be a new or revamped one, is merely a formality and consists of multiple rubberstamps littered throughout the boardroom.  In the case of Illinois, it’s turned into a wee bit more than that.

On Dec. 9, the Illini officially announced the hiring of Tim Beckman, who is white, as the football program’s new head coach.  The school’s board of trustees Thursday officially approved Beckman’s five-year, $9 million contract, although it wasn’t a unanimous endeavor; Lawrence Oliver and James Montgomery, who are black, voted against the deal.

The reasoning behind the nay votes?  The Illini didn’t, the Associated Press writes, “work hard enough to find a black head coach” according to the two trustees.

“In my mind, this is a missed opportunity,” Oliver said, referring to the fact that the school has never hired a black head coach for the football or men’s basketball programs. “I would hope that as a university we find this shutout unacceptable.”

Unless the reports were way off base, the Illini did in fact doggedly pursue at least one minority candidate.  Houston’s Kevin Sumlin was mentioned as one of the front-runners for the Illini job — scuttlebutt was the Illini had offered a deal in the $3 million-a-year range that was spurned — before leaving the Cougars to take over at Texas A&M.  Additionally, Kirby Wilson, the Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach who was severely burned in a house fire earlier this year, also interviewed for the vacancy at his alma mater and was viewed by outside observers as a serious contender.

While Oliver acknowledged the pursuit of Sumlin and Wilson, the trustee flatly stated the process didn’t go far enough.

“We have to increase our effort. Making an opening offer for a hot African-American coaching prospect is not enough,” Oliver said.

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29 Responses to “Race factored into two nay votes on Beckman’s Illini deal”
  1. woebegong says: Jan 19, 2012 10:20 PM

    What candidates did these two have in mind that they think the school spurned? Good grief, they offered Sumlin a contract at 3 million a year, and this coach they hired gets 1.8 million per year. Doesn’t sound so racially motivated to me. He is probably being paid less than probably 80% of the coaches at schools this size get paid.

  2. roundup5 says: Jan 19, 2012 10:25 PM

    Now, do you know what a Racist sounds like?

  3. roundup5 says: Jan 19, 2012 10:26 PM

    Not woebegong!

  4. woebegong says: Jan 19, 2012 10:29 PM

    You have me a little confused here. Am I somehow being called a racist or NOT?

  5. patg1041 says: Jan 19, 2012 10:30 PM

    If black people truly want equality, they have to move past the mentality that they are entitled to special consideration.

  6. tsimpson50 says: Jan 19, 2012 10:39 PM

    Great day to be an Illini! We should have worked harder to hire an African American head coach! Oh wait they did… Luckily TB hired four AA coaches as well as Coach Gonzalez. We better investigate a little more! Hey come to think of it, when was the last time we had a white featured running back? Maybe the trustees can help do a better job of recruiting a white back and receiver. These numbnuts ought to be removed from their position.

  7. nygiantsallday says: Jan 19, 2012 10:48 PM

    this kind of statement by these guys using ethnicity as a factor only encourages racism. Ethnicity shouldn’t matter, the best guy for the job is the best guy for the job whether he is JPP black or Tom Coughlin white (sometimes red lol).

  8. mrslay1 says: Jan 19, 2012 10:48 PM

    Amen patg1041. This stuff is pitiful. Now you have to hire a black coach or your a racist. This is what causes racisum and it will continue as long as these kind of people (the blacks that voted against the coach) are allowed to make any kind of decisions. They are the racists!!!!!

  9. lbijake says: Jan 19, 2012 10:51 PM

    hey offered $3 million per annum to a black coach and then only pay the white coach $1.8 million per year. Sounds racist to me.

  10. vegetablenamedbanana says: Jan 19, 2012 11:07 PM

    Funny because Illinois never offered Kevin Sumlin $3 Million per year. That was the total they would spend on Sumlin & his staff.

    A&M is giving Sumlin $1.93 Million per year. His staff allowance is $3.4 Million based upon the “reported” contracts of the staff hes assembled.

    Just wanted to clarify the false claim above suggesting Illinois would even offer $3 Million per year for a football coach.

  11. vegetablenamedbanana says: Jan 19, 2012 11:14 PM

    Illinois can make up for it by hiring Shaka Smart for Basketball once they finally fire Bruce Weber.

    They have and will always be a basketball school with a mediocre football program. Their football program hasn’t been relevant since the days of Jeff George and they had no choice but to replace a retread coach in Zook with an “up & comer” like Beckman.

    Beckman’s Toledo teams were undisciplined.
    He has poor game management with conserving timeouts.
    He hired the clown Billy Gonzalez to run his offense and call plays.

    Illinois football will be doing this same dance in another 4 years.

  12. jason1214 says: Jan 19, 2012 11:23 PM

    As far as I can tell makes no difference what color a coach is when they get fired, so why should it ONLY apply to hiring them?

  13. thefiesty1 says: Jan 19, 2012 11:58 PM

    Affirmative action failed, again.

  14. tr975 says: Jan 20, 2012 12:27 AM

    Imagine the uproar if the situation had been reversed, and two white trustees voted against the hiring of a black head coach, saying enough wasn’t done to search for a white head coaching candidate

  15. lemmam says: Jan 20, 2012 12:40 AM

    Turner Gill

  16. seanb20124 says: Jan 20, 2012 6:53 AM

    Maybe the the NAACP or Jesse Jacka$$ should investigate this hiring.

  17. blueglaze says: Jan 20, 2012 7:06 AM


  18. bamasleeper13 says: Jan 20, 2012 8:39 AM

    Totally agree, hire the right guy for your program, if he is purple, green, black or white. Good grief…….

  19. 11inthebox says: Jan 20, 2012 9:19 AM

    So the point of the story is what? That two people didn’t ‘approve’ of Beckman’s hiring?

    Bottom line is that Beckman HAS THE JOB. Who cares who ‘likes’ him or not.

    I don’t care how many white guys hate me. Most have hatred me my entire life. All I care about is being able to feed my family.

  20. mhalt99 says: Jan 20, 2012 9:30 AM

    why is Illinois the joke of the Big 10?……oh that’s right…instead of trying to find the most highly qualified candidate they are looking for something else……

  21. florida727 says: Jan 20, 2012 9:32 AM

    “The reasoning behind the nay votes? The Illini didn’t, the Associated Press writes, ‘work hard enough to find a black head coach’ according to the two trustees.”


    TRANSLATION: if you don’t hire a black head coach, we’ll play the race card.

    Guess what boys, it didn’t work. Instead they hired who they thought was the BEST AVAILABLE candidate. Go figure. Wonder what the process is to remove a racist Board of Trustees member?

  22. woebegong says: Jan 20, 2012 9:34 AM

    Hate is a two way street. As long as all people of all races, continue to act like they do, it isn’t going to go away. It doesn’t matter the color,racism can rear it’s ugly head at any time, but it is painfully obvious when officials for some reason or another, make decisions of importance based on their perceptions and vote in protest, when it appears the facts may prove to make them wrong in their assumptions. If their assumptions about the coaches job being racially motivated were right, would they be on the board in the first place that decides on whom is going to coach?

  23. thraiderskin says: Jan 20, 2012 10:35 AM

    yea! American race relations…

  24. cubano76 says: Jan 20, 2012 12:19 PM

    They might be right. But not sure that was the best time to bring it up. Not fair to the guy they just hired.

  25. 11inthebox says: Jan 20, 2012 1:00 PM

    It would be great if everyone loved one another and there was always peace and harmony. But that’s not the case. Nor will it ever be the case. I think basic tolerance is about all we can hope for.

    I know no one will engage me on this but I’ll state my position anyway. I’m not saying these guys are ‘right’ for voting against this deal. A lot of old black men who get into positions of power are looking for some pay back for injustices done to them.

    It’s not always the right thing to do. But at least Oliver and Montgomery were honest about their feelings. I wish my enemies had the balls to do that!

    But let’s look at the big picture. Black folks comprise just 12% of the population. And only half are over the age of 18. A minuscule number of black men, like Oliver and Montgomery sit on any school’s board of trustees.

    Bottom line: black folks are not in position to “take over” anything. Based on numbers and positions of power, the country is still controlled by white men. That’s not gonna change.

    I know you guys want black folks to get all up in arms about situations like these. You want them to stand with you and shout “these black men are racists!” I get it.

    But if this sort of thing REALLY bothers you, instead of getting defensive and discussing it among yourselves, maybe you should seek another perspective.

    Maybe hang out and discuss it with a black guy from work or from the gym. Ask them why black folks care about these kinds of issues. Maybe you’ll become friends because of it. That goes a long way towards the goal of tolerance.

  26. rcali says: Jan 20, 2012 2:36 PM

    Well then these two board members should be fired. Next.

  27. latrobe21 says: Jan 20, 2012 4:05 PM

    Mon Keys are ruining this country.

  28. irishdodger says: Jan 21, 2012 1:52 PM

    Tyrone Willingham is available. I believe he can be found on a golf course or at the bank cashing one of his many multi-million dollar checks from ND &/or UW.

  29. illmarc says: Jan 28, 2012 6:11 PM

    You all sound like Racists white Folks…2012 and the Struggle Continues…

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