Tim Beckman

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Illinois reaches settlement agreement with Tim Beckman

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The University of Illinois will pay former football head coach Tim Beckman a one-time sum of $250,000 to complete a settlement agreement.

“In resolving these matters, the university and Coach Beckman seek to avoid protracted and costly litigation that would by necessity require the involvement of a number of current and former student-athletes, as well as coaches, staff, trainers, and team physicians,” a statement from the university said. “This resolution allows the university to avoid the distraction of pending litigation and to focus instead on the well-being of student-athletes in the program. At the same time, Coach Beckman can resume his career without protracted litigation. The resolution involves a one-time payment of $250,000 to Beckman, who will release all claims he may have had against the university.”

Beckman was fired by Illinois shortly before the start of the 2015 college football season as a result of an ongoing investigation regarding the way Beckman treated players and ignored health concerns within the program. Beckman contested the allegations made against him by former players and the report’s findings, but Illinois held firm on its decision.

“The university stands by its decision to terminate Coach Beckman for cause, but recognizes that terminating him without cause was another possible alternative,” a statement from Illinois explains. “In deciding to terminate Coach Beckman, the university relied on preliminary findings that were eventually included in the Report issued by Franczek Radelet, an independent investigating law firm, concerning the management of sports injuries and scholarships in the football program. Throughout the investigation, Coach Beckman cooperated with all requests for information and answered all questions.”

Illinois named Bill Cubit its interim head coach for the 2015 season and eventually agreed to a contract extension for Cubit to retain him as the head coach. Cubit was then let go by a brand new AD this spring and replaced by Lovie Smith.

Disturbing details of Tim Beckman’s handling of injuries at Illinois released in report

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Former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman was bad at his job, but now we have more of an idea of just how clueless and irresponsible he was as well. The details of a thorough investigation into the injury management within the Illinois football program under Beckman were released Monday morning by the University of Illinois and the firm hired to conduct the investigation. According to the report, Beckman did not believe in hamstring injuries, perhaps one of the more common injuries in football for as long as he has been coaching. Beckman would also hurl derogatory names and insults to players for receiving assistance from athletic trainers in addition to pressuring trainers to clear players before they were ultimately ready to play again.

“Coach Beckman supported student-athlete welfare in various respects, he also employed a wide array of motivational tactics directed primarily at players and athletic trainers that violated such standards and protocols in meaningful and systemic ways, the report says in its introduction. “Furthermore, to create room for new players joining the program for the spring 2015 semester, Coach Beckman caused four players to be pressured to relinquish their scholarships at the end of the fall 2014 semester against those players’ express wishes.”

Beckman came under fire for the way players with injuries were treated when complaints from former player Simon Cvijanovic popped up online. Cvijanovic suggested Beckman was a bully to injured players, and the report released today backs that up. Some conclusions made by the released report;

  • Coach Beckman attempted to instill a belief system in players to play through injuries and return too quickly from injuries to benefit the team by pressuring or influencing players not to report injuries or play through them;

  • Coach Beckman criticized players who sought medical treatment or were not playing because of injury with demeaning comments and other communication tactics

  • Coaches placed their medical judgment above that of physicians and led players to be misinformed regarding medical options and expected recovery time from injury

  • Coaches pressured athletic trainers to aggressively interpret physician diagnoses and player restrictions to return injured players to practice prematurely

  • Coaches influenced medical decisions in ways that prioritized the team over the individual player’s welfare

  • Delayed informing several redshirt juniors that they would not have a place on the football team after the fall 2014 semester

  • Pressured, harassed, and threatened such players to voluntarily relinquish their scholarships in December 2014

  • Retaliated against one player who challenged the requests that he not stay on campus through Spring 2015.

That’s not a good look for Beckman, and could be reason enough why we may not see him coaching again in any capacity for a while. Of course, Illinois also fired athletics director Mike Thomas today upon the release of this report. Thomas had previously stuck his neck out in defense of Beckman when the accusations were first made. Thomas later stepped back from his defense of Beckman when he fired the head coach just days before the first game of the season. Bill Cubit has been serving as the interim head coach of the Illini, and he has the program on the cusp of becoming eligible for postseason play. Cubit is mentioned a few times in the report as well, including one story where a former player felt Cubit was pressuring him not to take anti-anxiety medication, although another player aware of the interaction suggested the message delivered by Cubit was misinterpreted by the player and Cubit was actually lending support. The report says there is no indication Cubit said anything else inappropriate to any player and there is no evidence Cubit ever pressured any players regarding injury issues.

The report is quite thorough, at 1,267 pages with all of the supporting documents. You can read the full report, if you have the time, here.

Michigan St, Baylor, Boise St highlight the Friday night menu

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You know, college football on Thursday night was so much fun. We should do it all again tonight. Sound good? I knew I liked you.

Tonight’s Friday night line-up sees three teams that played in a New Years Six bowl in action tonight, and two of them are on the road. No. 4 Baylor will open the 2015 campaign in Dallas against SMU. The defending co-Big 12 champs will look to make a good first impression against the Mustangs, but will be without defensive lineman Shawn Oakman and defensive back Orion Stewart. Both players have been suspended for one game for a violation of team rules. This should be of little concern for the Bears, who should have more than enough offense to show off against a team it blanked last season (45-0).

At the same time Baylor is kicking off against SMU, the team it faced (and lost to) in the Cotton Bowl last season will be hoping to avoid an upset in Kalamazoo. No. 5 Michigan State is playing on the road against Western Michigan, a program seemingly trending upward in the MAC under the leadership of P.J. Fleck. Mark Dantonio‘s Spartans are once again a Big Ten contender with playoff aspirations, but now move forward without defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi calling the shots on defense. Michigan State should still be a defensive force for most programs this season, and having a steady quarterback like Connor Cook should bode well for Michigan State tonight and throughout the season.

The last New Years Six bowl participant on the schedule for tonight is good old Boise State. Once again the favorite for the Group of Five big bowl invitation, the Broncos look to get off to a good start with a victory over a Pac-12 program, Washington. The Huskies bring some youth and inexperience to the blue turf this evening, but they just so happen to be coached by a guy who knows all about this environment, Chris Petersen. Petersen returns to the place that made him a household name in the college football ranks, but he may not have the roster ready to grab victory from the Broncos. Boise State could very well go undefeated this season, especially if Thursday night’s showing by Utah State is an indication for what to expect from them this year, and having a win over a power conference opponent will be key down the line.

Illinois Goes Without Beckman

The Bill Cubit era gets underway as Illinois quickly moves past the Tim Beckman experience. Beckman was canned by the school last week, one week before the first game of the season against Kent State. Look for Illinois to get off to a good start on offense with Wes Lunt taking to the air early and often.

Hello Charlotte!

The Charlotte 49ers play their first FBS football game tonight, and they may even grab their first FBS win in school history. The 49ers are on the road taking on Georgia State. The Panthers have a long way to go but should still have an advantage against the upstart program at Charlotte.

FCS Upset Alert?

Weather got in the way of Stony Brook’s attempt to top Toledo. Southern Utah let one slip away against Utah State, and UConn avoided a loss at home to Villanova. Will we see an FCS program take down an FBS squad tonight? We could, and Fordham has a chance. The Rams take on Army, which should look to run the football and wear down the FCS program on the rise. Fordham is two years removed from taking down Temple, and they could do it again tonight.

Syracuse is hosting Rhode Island, which could get interesting if the Orange can’t create some separation in the first half.

Illinois calls on good old Dan Beebe for crisis management help

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This should end well.

With Illinois head coach Tim Beckman and members of the football and women’s basketball staff coming under fire for the way student-athletes have been treated, the University of Illinois called on an old friend for more help; good old Dan Beebe.

The former commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and his firm, the Dan Beebe Group, is being paid $50,000 by the University of Illinois for risk management services, according to a report from The News-Gazette. The firm is contracted to 11 months of work, during which time Beebe’s group will be tasked with guiding the university through the aftermath of three separate investigations commissioned in response to allegations of mistreatment of players within the football and women’s basketball programs, including Beckman.

It has been a rough offseason for Beckman in particular after former Illini player Simon Cvijanović dropped a haymaker on Beckman, suggesting Beckman abused his power as head coach and attacking players either physically or emotionally. Another former player of Beckman’s called him the worst coach he ever met. The stories did not end there, causing Illinois to find ways of standing by their football coach during a somewhat tumultuous time.

Whether Beckman was wrong or not in any of his actions, the costs are starting to add up for Illinois one way or the other. In addition to the $50,000 owed to Beebe’s firm, Illinois is on the hook for roughly $20,000 in public relations consultation and more for various hourly internal investigation charges. Beckman somehow managed to hold onto his job after last season because the Illini wiggled into the postseason. Despite some signs of small steps forward on the football field, the margin for error for Beckman may be getting narrower and narrower.

Illinois defensive end packs his bags and leaves Illini

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It may not have a tremendous impact on this upcoming season for the Illinois Fighting Illini, but losing depth on the defensive line is never a good thing. Such is the case for the Illini this week as Paul James III has packed up his things and left the program and university. The exact reason for the sudden departure is unknown at this point in time, but what we do know is this is not good news for head coach Tim Beckman and the hot seat he sits upon.

As noted by The Champaign Room, the loss of James means Illinois has no projected starter at defensive end in 2016, unless you count an incoming freshman in the Illini Class of 2016. Right now the Illini have a two-star prospect in Joshua Black heading their way, but that is hardly enough to fill the void of talent.

James was a three-star recruit in the Illini Class of 2013 out of Miami, Florida. According to his Rivals ranking, he was the 20th-best strong side defensive end in the country and it was likely he would be filling a starting job in 2016, if not sooner. Not only will his loss have a negative impact on the 2016 defensive line, but it also cuts into the depth on the roster this season, and there was not much depth to begin with.