CHAMPAIGN — Four more families of former Illinois women’s basketball players reached out to Illinois President Timothy Killeen and Chancellor Phyllis Wise on Thursday unhappy with how the internal investigation into the program was handled.
The families of Jacqui Grant, Taylor Gleason and Taylor Tuck were the first to send letters to Wise, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas and others in late April with allegations of verbal abuse and racism against head coach Matt Bollant and associate head coach Mike Divilbiss, who left the program Monday.
The families of Amarah Coleman, Alexis Smith, Nia Oden and Sarah Livingston were all signees on the follow-up letter, which was first reported by The Daily Illini.
"The players and player families of the University of Illinois Womens’ (sic) Basketball Team listed below do most strongly object to the manner in which the ‘internal investigation’ of mistreatment and abuses by the coaching staff was handled and is currently being handled by your office," the follow-up letter stated.
"We find this protocol unacceptable as well as completely disrespectful to the student athletes and their families affected by the coaches and coaching staff involved in these patterns of abuse. Please do everything in your power to put a swift end to this ongoing embarrassment."
Tuck and Oden graduated from the university on Saturday. Grant and Coleman have both committed to transfer to DePaul, Gleason is headed to Oakland and Smith to Wagner with an extra year of eligibility gained by missing all of the 2014-15 season with an injury. Livingston left Illinois following the 2013-14 season and transferred to Southern California to play volleyball.
The UI responded to the letter with a statement Thursday that said the health and well-being of student-athletes at Illinois is the university’s No. 1 priority and any allegations of problems are taken seriously. The remaining allegations of medical mistreatment from Gleason and former football player Simon Cvijanovic are being investigated by the Chicago law firm Franczek Radelet.
"A rush to judgment before the investigative work is completed is premature," the UI statement concluded.