Illinois fires head coach Tim Beckman

Illinois has fired head coach Tim Beckman one week before the start of the season.

UI Director of Athletics Mike Thomas confirmed the dismissal on Friday, citing preliminary results of an external review into allegations of player mistreatment.

"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 in a statement. "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."

According to the release, the review revealed to Thomas efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions regarding player injuries. Beckman was also found to have acted inappropriately regarding the scholarship status of outgoing seniors.

"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," said Thomas, who later described himself as shocked and angry after reading the findings. "I expect my coaches to protect players and foster their success on and off the field."

Questions about Beckman's treatment of players were first raised when former Illini offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic accused the coach of mistreatment in a Twitter rant in May. He levied some significant allegations, and took to Twitter after the news of Beckman's firing broke on Friday.

Thomas, at an afternoon news conference, said that as of now, no other coaches have been implicated in Beckman's transgressions.

Later on Friday, Beckman responded with a statement of his own released to FOX Sports, saying, "The health and well-being of our student athletes is of paramount importance to me, and any statement made to the contrary is utterly false."

Illinois opens the season against Kent State on Sept. 4. The school announced offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will serve as interim head coach.

"If Bill Cubit's interested, he'll be considered for the full-time job," Thomas said, adding that he would not address potential candidates.

Thomas said the final report has not been issued, which includes a review of more than 200,000 documents and interviews with more than 90 people, along with a "large volume" of practice and game video. Beckman will forfeit $3.1 million remaining on his five-year contract, which had two years remaining. Beckman's teams compiled a dismal 4-20 Big Ten record over three years, but he had his best season (6-7) last year, including a bid to the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. In addition, Illinois has been shut out in the NFL draft the previous two years.

The circumstances around Beckman's firing put his future in coaching in peril. The UI findings would be used against him on the recruiting trail if he were to get another head-coaching job.

As such, it won't be surprising if an assistant-coaching role is something of a career ceiling for Beckman going forward.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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