Two UI trustees vote against new football coach's contract

 

CHICAGO — Two University of Illinois trustees voted against the appointment of new football coach Tim Beckman on Thursday, citing the UI's failure to hire an African-American as a head football or basketball coach.

Trustee Lawrence Oliver read a statement just before the board's vote to approve Beckman's $9 million five-year contract, saying he had problems with the process and substance of the search in December.

He called it a "sad irony" that the UI places emphasis on diversity as a leading public university but has never had an African-American head football or basketball coach in its history. That "dubious distinction," he said, is shared in the Big Ten only with Purdue and Nebraska.

"African-Americans predominate these two sports," and have made significant gains in the assistant coaching ranks and to a lesser extent head coaching ranks, he said.

"I would hope that as a university we find this shutout unacceptable," Oliver said.

Oliver acknowledged that two African-American coaches were interviewed for the position — former Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin and UI graduate Kirby Wilson, running backs coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was injured in a fire earlier this month.

Sumlin was offered a contract by the UI but turned it down, accepting an offer at Texas A&M.

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

Trustee James Montgomery, a UI graduate, echoed Oliver's remarks and also voted no.

More on this story in Friday's News-Gazette.

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jerrysbear wrote on January 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

It seems quite discriminatory to only consider black coaches. There would be great outrage if they would only consider white coaches. I can not believe someone feels it is acceptable to hire based on race for a position for which race does not matter.

MissM wrote on January 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

I agree completely. Imagine how unwanted this makes Coach Beckman feel. He has essentially been told that he is not good enough for the job because of the color of his skin. The comment seems even more out of place when you read on in the article and realize that the UI first offered the position to a black coach, who turned the UI down.

Rock586 wrote on January 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Way to go Mr. Oliver, I am sure the new coach feels welcome.  No wonder UofI football is up and down. The new coach probably is looking elsewhere already.  Whats wrong with hiring the best person for the job.  Who cares what race he is. The first choice was what you want and he chose to go elsewhere.  Grow up.
 

hyena wrote on January 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Nine? NINE million dollars ??? How is that not a sad irony for a an institution of higher education??

Smitto wrote on January 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I'm not quite sure what your point is here, but if it is a reaction to the amount of money being paid to our coach you should know that the head football and basketball coaches' salaries are paid 100% by I-Fund donations and athletic boosters. 0% of the salary is paid by tax-payer/state money. Also, UI's salaries are very comparable to other Division 1/BCS conference schools. No irony there as far as I am concerned...

hyena wrote on January 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

First, the total separation of funding for athletics has already been debunked. Memorial Stadium and other facilities were not funded solely out of sport revenue.

Second, just because this level of compensation is comparable to what goes on at other institutions doesn't lessen the indecency of having such a HUGE differential between athletics and other activities of the University. This latest is just disgusting business as usual, the worship of sports above all else.

Panem et circenses and all that.

Smitto wrote on January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

First, I didn't say one word about anything other than coaching salaries. So while your "dubunking" of athletic department funds and how they are appropriated may be partially true (the vast majority of athletic department functions are still paid for by donations and fund raising), it is completely false in regards to coaching salaries.


Second, as with most other major universities, the athletic department is what helps keep the school afloat. Even with a sub-par football program, the revenues generated by the football program far exceed any other program on campus. So whether you like the football program and the way it does business or not (and I'm not stating that you do or do not), large coaching salaries and high spending is the nature of the business. If you don't like it, don't watch, and don't donate to the program. It is as easy as that.

UIUCHoopFan wrote on January 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

The last I knew the DIA's money didn't cross Kirby Avenue to help pay any salaries other than those housed in Ubben with the exception of what I expect is watered town tuition, fees, and housing for scholarship athletes. 

The DIA isn't keeping the campus afloat.....that would be undergraduate tuition, more specifically international undergraduate tuition. 

cats kradle wrote on January 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

Right. And if it wasnt for the football team we would never have the womens b-ball team either, drawing a mighty crowd of 654 people as it gets its butt kicked 6 times in a row. 654 X $5 admission = not even enough to keep the lights and popcorn machines running at Assembly Hall for the two hours it takes to play a game. Maybe the womens program is worth it anyway because it inspires little girls or something but most sports teams would not exist if it wasnt for men's b-ball and football bringing in all that cash for DIA.

read the DI wrote on January 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

My old student activities fee would argue otherwise, Smitto. Perhaps I was helping to pay for the legions of staff not named Weber or Zook?

Smitto wrote on January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

Absolutely zero of your student activities fee went towards paying coaching salaries. Zero. Some portions of the student activity fees do go towards the athletic department, and help to support student athletes and athletic facilities. But absolutely none of that goes towards coaching salaries, which is what my post was in reference to.


I do not understand why this is so hard to understand. Coaching salraies are not paid for by tax-payer dollars or state appropriated funds.

Bob620 wrote on January 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I would hope that as a university we find this action of  voting not to accept ones contract based solely on race totally unacceptable.

Fedupwithstatereps wrote on January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

Agree 100%.  Looking at only African American candidates IS racist! 

Ryder wrote on January 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

What was the length and value of the contract offered to Sumlin? If the value of the contract that Beckman accepted was comparable or less, then I think it's unfair to criticize his hiring on racial grounds.

I'm sympathetic to what Oliver and Montgomery want to see; I would also like to see coaching staffs better reflect the makeup of the teams in terms of proportionate representation and opportunity. But unless they can show me why Sumlin, who appears to have had right of first refusal (please correct me if this isn't the case), was entitled to earn more than Beckman, I feel fairly dismissive of their argument right now.

bluegrass wrote on January 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Hmmmm.  An African American would be nice, yes, I agree.   Or perhaps a nice Mexican?...  Oh I know, maybe we could get a good Arab.  No wait, an Indian.  No, not a Native American.  A real Indian Indian, you know, from India?  Any good Indian Indian's out there we could snag for a coach?

SEMOIllini wrote on January 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Did these two African-American trustees vote against Beckman basically because he's not African-American?  What happened to hiring the best coach "available"?  Sumlin was offered the job and turned it down, so the next best coach was Beckman and he accepted---this should have been the end of story.  However it appears Trustees Oliver and Montgomery expected A.D. Thomas to restrict his selection list to only African-American coaches.   When any member of a Board of Trustees demands a quota search for a HC, they don't belong on the Board.   

SEMOIllini wrote on January 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Maybe these 2 Trustees are just posturing for the next head coach to be 100% "diverse".   

CU2012 wrote on January 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Sounds like a bit of reverse racsim too me there is a lot of that going on!!!!!

bigdog477 wrote on January 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Discriminatory practice? Precisely the issue! By percentage there are more black NFL head coaches per capita than in NCAA. History suggest there is discrimination in hiring(selecting) Black/Minority HFC in the NCAA. The Trustees point was on process and substance.  I think they know more about the process and substance than any of us. I applaud them for showing the courage to vote the way they did. Time will tell if it was a good hire.  But for now it is not being well received in the Chicago area.

Rock586 wrote on January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

You are completely off point bird dog (pun intended). Also we have never been good at getting the Chicago stars.

45solte wrote on January 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

If you're using a 'quota' heuristic, maybe you should also be clamoring for the hiring of more non-black players even though they might not be as well-qualified.  It's not about ability.  It's about proportionate representation.  At least that's my understanding of your argument.  Do good players automatically make good coaches? 

bigdog477 wrote on January 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

It's not about quota it's about hiring the best candidate.  But the numbers and history suggest minorities have to check more boxes to be head coach.  Urban Meyer was a WR coach appointed HFC, Dabo Sweeny was a position coach appointed HFC.  That list is very long.  You can't find a minority given that opportunity. 

illini_trucker wrote on January 20, 2012 at 3:01 am

WOW!!! The good ole RACE card! Many decades later, minorities are still given preferential treatment over qualifications. But hey!! It's not the most publicly known "race card game.."  Does anyone else hear the echo of Presidential Election Year 2008??? I just shake my head over and over again in disbelief... Every time.. Each time becoming a little more immune to the real minority issue here... That it is even mentioned in the first place... Someone screams minority and everyone turns their heads... But yet I see more and more news articles about how the "minority" is now the "majority," and I don't see any preferential treatment to my benefit. I don't even fill out the voluntary affirmative action questionairres anymore. I am looked down upon and disgraced, otherwise. My applications get denied. Only when I make less than $600 a month do I even qualify for state aid. But I'm not griping about minority. Not until here and now. Thank Lord MY money isn't allocated to a "Racial University!"

read the DI wrote on January 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

Get back off the ledge.

Rock586 wrote on January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

Mr. Oliver and Montgomery, if you have a tunnel vision agenda based on race I suggest you resign as a trustee. The job has much more substance than for you to point everything at race.


 

45solte wrote on January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

Maybe they can just foot the legal bills, personally, when an equal protection challenge is launched should they ever succeed with their racially discriminatory practices. 

UIUCHoopFan wrote on January 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

There IS a minority head basketball coach.....Jolette Law.  Even though her program is in the tank she's probably teflon when it comes to her head coaching job because she's a minority.

If Sumlin and Oliver feel there is a race problem in the athletic department then pressure the coaches to recruit based on a color wheel as opposed to talent and see how far that flies with donors and season ticket buyers.

If the University is all about diversity and inclusion then why is there a Black Greek Council and African-American Homecoming?  Perhaps the Board of Trustees needs to look into these activities as well!

SwifferFan wrote on January 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

The U of IL fired the only hispanic strength coach in the Big Ten despite outstanding performance and qualifications.  Does that say anything about anything except hiring has nothing to do with what you know or your credentials, but who you know?  Thomas knew Beckman and the new staff can't say Urban Meyer's name enough.  Makes me a little ill, personally.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Drop the racial thing.  Direct your anger toward the politically appointed Board of Trustees.  Don't assume that they are bright, smart, or informed.  They are political appointees given their jobs for political, or monetary favors.  They had their "retreat" which you the taxpayers paid followed by their regular meeting.  Wonder what the food bill, lodging, etc. came to on the bill? Those people are your Board of Trustees.  It is not a racial thing.  It is an elitist, lack of intelligence thing.  

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Drop the racial thing.  Direct your anger toward the politically appointed Board of Trustees.  Don't assume that they are bright, smart, or informed.  They are political appointees given their jobs for political, or monetary favors.  They had their "retreat" which you the taxpayers paid followed by their regular meeting.  Wonder what the food bill, lodging, etc. came to on the bill? Those people are your Board of Trustees.  It is not a racial thing.  It is an elitist, lack of intelligence thing.  

bigdog477 wrote on January 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Rock Head (no pun intended) have you ever wondered why we can't get those kids? What's worse is many of those top players are coached by former Illini.  Again the trustees Stated!  They were concerned about the PROCESS as they should be.

Rock586 wrote on January 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Yawn, you are getting boring birddog. Are you suggesting hiring a minority coach so we can get Chicago talent because a white man cannot bring them?

bigdog477 wrote on January 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

The right one YES! and we had a chance to do that.  Process and Substance. I don't know why I'm responding to you.  You don't have a clue!

sahuoy wrote on January 23, 2012 at 4:01 am

U of I trustees Oliver and Montgomery are operating under the delusion of Affirmative Action (Tax dollars under African-American politics). If you'll notice at the end of the following article, the former police chief had been convicted of felony theft in 1982 but affirmative action expunged his record in 1989. i don't know of anyone, especially white/caucasian that is retained in any capacity after having committed a felony. It would be appropriate to remove Oliver and Montgomery based on color blindness. See Link http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/former-east-st-louis-police-chief-admits-theft/article_73f40b1a-42ca-11e1-bbc2-0019bb30f31a.html