Update: Report hits Beckman, clears Thomas

Update: Report hits Beckman, clears Thomas

From calling a player a "pussy" or "sissy" for seeking medical treatment to encouraging players not to report, the Franczek Radelet report released Monday morning paints a picture of Tim Beckman as abusive coach.

Beckman was fired for preliminary findings from the report on Aug. 28, one week before the season.

"We found evidence showing that Coach Beckman repeatedly communicated with players in ways, both explicit and implicit, that had the effect of deterring them from sharing information with sports medicine staff about injuries. When viewed in isolation many of these incidents might be considered only slightly inappropriate. However, the cumulative effect of Coach Beckman's conduct and statements on the culture of the program conflicted with the best interests of the student-athletes," the report read. "Specifically, the information provided to us demonstrates that Coach Beckman engaged in a pattern of criticizing and demeaning players for seeking evaluation by an athletic trainer during practice, promoting the idea of playing through injuries, belittling injuries, and encouraging players to minimize their injuries."

For the investigation, a team of four attorneys conducted more than 100 interviews of 76 individuals and reviewed more than 200,000 documents.

Among the interviewed:

— Athletic director Mike Thomas was interviewed five times.

— Beckman was interviewed twice.

— 13 current players were interviewed and 24 overall.

— Seven doctors from Carle were interviewed, including CEO James Leonard.

According to the report, three football athletic trainers left during Beckman's first season because of his attempted interference with their job. The report said they did so because of concern for the players.

After both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, sports medicine personnel attempted to intervene with Beckman by attending practice and making sure their orders were followed.

For the 2013 season, Beckman brought in Toby Harkins, an athletic trainer who was "more in line with Coach Beckman's desired approach of aggressive injury management."

Harkins, who left before the 2013 season for other reasons, created friction with team doctors by not fully reporting injuries to them.

"We conclude that Coach Beckman systematically attempted to exert excessive and inappropriate influence on athletic trainer decisions regarding injury management issues. As such, he violated multiple sports medicine standards," the report said.

Current coaches were cleared of any wrongdoing by the report.

Investigators said there were very few complaints about the assistant coaches, and those were addressed in the report.

The assistants expressed concern about Beckman's tactics.

"When offered examples of Coach Beckman's admitted demeaning statements (most of which the assistant coaches denied hearing personally), several assistant coaches confirmed feeling uneasy or concerned about the nature of such communications, if they occurred," the report said.

Current assistant coaches said they think most players understate, rather than overstate, their injuries, and players who are injured should not be pushed.

"As a result, our review of all information received during our investigation leads to the conclusion that there is a lack of evidence of misconduct by assistant coaches with respect to injury management of players or communication with athletic trainers and doctors.

Thomas was also cleared by the report:

"With respect to sports medicine issues within the Football Program, based on all of the information gathered during our investigation, we conclude that Thomas never received any direct report from a player, doctor, athletic trainer, or DIA staff member of concerns regarding inappropriate pressure on student-athletes or interference with sports medicine personnel rendering judgments about injury management."

Beckman also pressured students into giving up their scholarships if they were not contributing on the field, the report said.

After the 2014 season, four redshirt juniors indicated a desire to stay enrolled in classes in the spring, after graduating in December 2014. Beckman told the players they were not allowed to stay on because they did not contribute to the team. They were allowed to stay on for spring classes, despite not being on the football team.

The report also said Beckman threatened poor performing and injured players with taking away their scholarships.

"We find that Coach Beckman did use threats of scholarship removal as a means to motivate players, though such removal would not be permitted under NCAA rules, and that such threats contributed, at times, to players pushing through medical issues," the report said.

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88illiniwek wrote on November 09, 2015 at 11:11 am

Hey News-Gazette, 

What's the total waste of DIA money on these expensive investigations and Thomas' buyout? And what could you buy with that? And if you really want to examine Thomas' waste of UI money you can include the buyouts on Zook and Weber.

PortlandIllini wrote on November 09, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Let's not forget the Board of Trustees's responsibility in this mess.    Please remember that the Board gave Thomas a positive performance review plus a raise primarily for his fund raising for the   "Center  formerly known as Assembly Hall"   renovation.

How about  focus on the athletes,  performance,  and attendence??