Former Toledo head coach Tim Beckman is now known as the former Illinois head coach after being fired on Friday. The complete press release from Illinois reads:
URBANA, Ill. - University of Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas dismissed head football coach Tim Beckman on Friday, citing preliminary results of an external review into allegations involving the program.
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."
Thomas said he has met with players and staff to inform them of the decision and reiterated that the health and well-being of student-athletes is the top priority throughout the athletic department's 21 programs.
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."
He said the review continues and a final report has not yet been issued. To date, more than 90 individuals have been interviewed by the Franczek Radelet law firm and 200,000 documents have been reviewed, along with a large volume of practice and game video from Beckman's three years as head coach.
Thomas said Bill Cubit, who joined the Illini coaching staff as offensive coordinator in 2013, has been named interim head coach for the 2015 season. The appointment will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval at their September 10 meeting. Thomas said the external review did not indicate any findings related to Coach Cubit.
Beckman will not receive the $3.1 million remaining on the last two years of his original five-year contract or the $743,000 called for if his contract had been bought out.
Beckman's record in three years as head coach was 12-25 overall, 4-20 in Big Ten Conference games. He led Illinois to the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl in December 2014.
Okay, that just really sucks if it's true. No parent or guardian of these football players wants to read that the head coach is putting the safety and well-being of these young adults on the back burner, assuming these allegations are true. The truth will hopefully come to light soon enough, but until then, Illinois will be using interim head coach Bill Cubit, formerly with Western Michigan for the time being.
Of course with a head coach gone, that means there's always a list of candidates to replace the ex. That's moving on for ya. SB Nation's Illinois Fighting Illini blog The Champaign Room released a list of 11 possible candidates that should be looked at. Three MAC-affiliated names mentioned include PJ Fleck, Dino Babers and Jim Tressel (earned his graduate degree from Akron, was a positions coach at Akron and Miami from 1975-80). I won't speculate too much about Tressel since he's currently the sitting president for Youngstown State, but let's take a look at some MAC coaches that crossed my mind:
Fleck is the hottest name out there, and it's not because of his dance moves (edit: yes it is). After Cubit was let go, WMU felt like they needed to regain their identity quickly. With some success under Cubit, it wasn't enough. Fleck hasn't won a MAC championship in his two years as the Broncos' head coach, but he's definitely given them much more national exposure than many fans may have imagined. He's exceeded expectations in recruiting, he helped coach Jarvion Franklin into being a well-decorated freshman, and his Row The Boat mantra has proven to be much more than just a gimmick whether you like it or not. People around the nation know that Fleck has an extremely outgoing personality and the Broncos football program has benefited from that. For being in a conference where the biggest programs are long well-established, Illinois could use an identity.
Let's keep in mind that while Fleck is currently the highest-paid coach in the MAC earning $800,000 annually, he has a buyout clause that should be taken into consideration when we (well, Illinois fans mostly) look at possible replacements for Beckman.
Fleck would owe the university $1 million if he terminated his contract before Nov. 30, 2015.
The buyout clause decreases by $200,000 if he leaves on or after Dec.1 each year after that through Nov. 30, 2019 - If Fleck terminated his contract between Dec. 1, 2018 and Nov. 30, 2019 he would owe WMU $200,000.
Babers came into Bowling Green with expectations to win the MAC East in his first season and did so. The team he took over from Dave Clawson, who left for Wake Forest after winning the 2013 conference title, was pretty talented on offense and was able to take care of business with a second-string quarterback for basically the entirety of the season. He's quickly brought success to Eastern Illinois, he's bringing success to Bowling Green, and it's definitely not outside of the realm of possibility for him to at least be intrigued by the Illinois coaching vacancy.
What about Rod Carey? Northern Illinois has been to five straight MAC Championship games, he's been able to keep the Huskies afloat even without Heisman-hopeful Jordan Lynch last year. It'll probably be tough to swing him out out of the position he's at, but a very worthy candidate all the same. His contract extension that he signed in 2014 keeps him in DeKalb through mid-2019.
Let's not forget about Pete Lembo. Wake Forest put Lembo into consideration before they inked Clawson to a deal. It didn't take long for Ball State to extend Lembo's contract through early 2019.
Matt Campbell's had a fair amount of success with Toledo and is primed to play in Detroit in his fourth year with the Rockets. However in 2013, he signed an extension that would keep him in Toledo through 2017. Then in 2014, he signed another one to keep him through 2020. It would be funny if Illinois hired another coach from Toledo though.