Illinois officially welcomed three new additions to the football staff on Wednesday, including one in-house promotion for the Illini program. The new members of the staff are running back coach Mike Bellamy, offensive line coach Bob McClain and strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez.
Bellamy spent the previous two seasons as a wide receivers coach for Toledo but spent four years on the Illinois staff from 2012 through 2015 as an assistant coach. Of course, Bellamy is also a former Illinois football player who earned All-Big Ten honors as a wide receiver in the late 1980s.
“It’s always a positive when you can add an alum to your staff,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said in a released statement. “Coach Bellamy has proven himself as an assistant here with a previous staff and at Toledo the last two seasons. Mike’s experience in Chicago and the state, along with his knowledge of our program, will definitely be a benefit. He did a terrific job with the receivers when he was here before, and now he gets the opportunity to expand his coaching role to running backs. Both coaches are excellent additions to our program.”
Hernandez is also marking a return to the Illini. After previously working at Illinois form 2005 to 2011, Hernandez has spent the last seven seasons at North Carolina.
“Returning to Illinois is an incredible opportunity,” Hernandez said in a statement. “This is not only an amazing place to work professionally, but it is also very special to me personally.
McClain was an in-house promotion for the staff. McClain joined the Illinois football program as an analyst last year. He has a history of coaching offensive linemen with jobs at Glenville State, Appalachian State, Virginia State, California University of Pennsylvania and Lenoir-Rhyne prior to his arrival at Illinois last year.
When Tim Beckman kicks off his fourth season at Illinois, his Illini coaching staff will be at less than full strength.
First reported by the Daily Illini, wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy has been suspended for the 2015 season opener for an NCAA violation. The student newspaper writes that the suspension stems from Bellamy “making arrangements for an Illini football recruit to obtain a junior college degree he had not completed.”
The incident involving an unnamed player occurred more than a year ago. From the Associated Press:
The unidentified junior college recruit enrolled at Illinois for the spring 2014 semester but the school later realized he had done so without completing his associate’s degree. The student dropped out of Illinois and Bellamy in January 2014 visited officials at the community college to arrange for him to take an online class to complete the degree.
The Illini self-reported the situation to the NCAA, and Bellamy was notified of his suspension in early December. In a letter to both Bellamy and Beckman, athletic director Mike Thomas made it clear such academic arrangements are very much impermissible moving forward.
“I understand it may be helpful for coaches to visit schools to obtain academic information in the recruiting process, but there is a line that must not be crossed when working with school officials,” Thomas wrote in the letter obtained . “I want to be very clear that no member of the University of Illinois football staff may be involved with arranging academic credits, questioning or influencing grades, or otherwise intervening in the academic affairs of prospective student-athletes.”
Illinois opens the 2015 at home against Kent State, and Bellamy, entering his third season as the receivers coach at his alma mater, will not be on the sidelines.
(Photo credit: Illinois athletics)
A couple of weeks after Billy Gonzales left Illinois for the SEC, Tim Beckman has found a positional replacement.
The Illini confirmed Wednesday that Mike Bellamy has been promoted from a support-staff role to wide receivers coach. Bellamy had spent the 2012 season as the Illini’s assistant director of player personnel and relations.
“Mike Bellamy will be a terrific addition to the Fighting Illini football staff,” said Beckman in a statement. “I’ve had a chance to observe Mike over the past year, and the job he did coordinating campus recruiting visits, maintaining communications with our former players and engaging with the current team was outstanding.
“He has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the wide receiver position, and as a former Fighting Illini player, an immense amount of pride and passion for the institution. I have no doubt Mike will be a great wide receivers coach and member of our coaching staff.”
Bellamy’s only previous coaching experience at the collegiate level came at Clark-Atlanta University in 2011. Prior to that, he was a coach at the high school level for three years.
The release added that Bellamy, who was a first-team All-Big Ten receiver in the late eighties, “built a successful business in the beauty industry in the Atlanta area” with his wife following a seven-year career in professional football that ended in 1996.