News-Gazette exclusive: Coach's payout: $48,500

News-Gazette exclusive: Coach's payout: $48,500

Former assistant women's basketball coach Mike Divilbiss received a nearly $48,500 payout when he left the University of Illinois under a cloud of allegations from former players last month.

Divilbiss signed a confidential separation agreement with the university on May 18, stating that he was leaving voluntarily after three years at the UI because it was "in his own best interests."

The document was obtained by The News-Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act.

The agreement provided him with the equivalent of three months' salary, or $40,000, plus $8,487.88 to cover the cost of health insurance for three months, as provided under federal law, according to the UI. The total lump sum of $48,487.88 was to be paid within 30 days of the agreement.

Divilbiss, who was hired April 10, 2012, at a $150,000 annual salary, was earning $161,831 this past year, UI documents show.

The allegations about the basketball program arose in April, when the parents of several former players wrote letters to UI officials.

They alleged that Divilbiss and head coach Matt Bollant tried to create racial tension among the team, verbally abused and berated players on personal — not basketball — matters, tried to discourage players to the point of voluntary scholarship withdrawal and threatened to take players' scholarships. One family also alleged that their daughter was forced to play while struggling with cardiac problems and mononucleosis.

An internal investigation by the UI concluded that no laws or university policies had been violated and no NCAA violations had occurred, but the university announced that Divilbiss had left the program.

After further complaints from parents, the UI asked an outside law firm to review the internal investigation.

The campus also referred the medical-related concerns to another outside law firm, Franczek Radelet of Chicago, that had been asked to investigate similar allegations about the Illinois football program from former lineman Simon Cvijanovic.

The separation agreement stipulates that Divilbiss is not entitled to any further compensation from the university and will not seek employment there in the future. By signing it, Divilbiss also agreed to release the university from any damages or liabilities related to his employment there.

He also agreed to keep the separation agreement and its terms confidential, and to make no "written or oral statements to anyone disparaging, attacking or painting in a negative light the University or any of its departments, divisions, employees, services or athletic programs."

If he fails to abide by those terms, Divilbiss will have to return the lump sum and be liable to the university for "any damages or harm arising out of that breach."

Likewise, the UI agreed to advise Bollant, athletic director Mike Thomas and senior associate athletic director Maria Ochoa Woods to make no "defamatory statements" about Divilbiss "except for statements that may be required of them by law."

The university was obligated to release the agreement under the Freedom of Information Act, spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

Divilbiss' departure was not related to the allegations, Kaler said Friday.

"It was a mutual decision between Coach Bollant and Coach Divilbiss. It was just over different philosophical approaches," she said.

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Alex M. Mobley wrote on June 20, 2015 at 7:06 am
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Unfortunately, not all FOIA requests about women's basketball were successful. More FOIAs filed means more public interest and less stonewalling. I would surely like to know what the Office of Diversity found out about the basketball situation and whether they filed a report and what these "philosophical differences" in coaching were. If any of the former women's basketball players are looking for a good attorney, might I recommend the lawfirm of Loevy and Loevy? They just won a FOIA ruling in the Salaita case.

Bwp 5P wrote on June 20, 2015 at 9:06 am

$8500 for three month health insurance!!! WOW

DaisyJ wrote on June 20, 2015 at 9:06 am

Look for Bollant to be gone after the full investigation. With him, with what they find, the payout will be

$0. Look for him to settle for what they find being kept secret. Today a coach can get away with whatever if they win. The community will accept most anything, even if it is wrong. Outside the lines did a story last Sunday about athletes getting in trouble at major univerisities, and the public was reluctant to testify against the athelete for fear that they would recieve backlass in the paper. Will be no different here. For Dividbliss, likely he has a history of this but no one ever got it out in the open.

GW wrote on June 20, 2015 at 10:06 am

Daisy has spoken, it must be the gospel...


areader wrote on June 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

I see this more and more . . . bottom line, people simply refuse to be accountable!  It seems it's happening in every aspect of our lives--people have no work ethic! They don't give a damn.  Some get caught . . . others don't.  I shutter to think how many people are in that second group--those who mess up and DON'T get caught!  Not a good thing!     

Moonpie wrote on June 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Fine work, Julie, and it's telling that it took real reporting from a real news side reporter and that this didn't come from one of the legendary coaches named Jackson or Tate.

Illinifan2000 wrote on June 22, 2015 at 10:06 am

Divilbiss did not have a contract. He was not a contract employee. There was no reason to pay him other than to buy his silence. Just another ridiculous move by Mike Thomas. Now why would the U of I want to buy Divilbiss' silence?