By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic on Sunday made strong accusations of mistreatment by head coach Tim Beckman and his Fighting Illini program.READ MORE: Ed's Tech Notes: Apple Cutting Production On iPhone 13, Twitter's New Feature, Drone Delivers Lungs For Transplant
In what started as a Twitter rant just after 4 p.m. and was still lasting after 10 p.m., Cvijanovic accused Beckman of creating a culture of physical abuse and poor treatment of players. He specifically alleged that at one point, he was told a meniscus tear was “no big deal.”
“I stopped playing football because of my physical health,” Cvijanovic said in his first tweet. “I was asked to push myself past pain until I didn’t want to play anymore.
“I have to see therapy for the rest of my life because I wasn’t given an option to have my knee repaired,” Cvijanovic said in another tweet.
Cvijanovic was a four-year starter at tackle and prominent part of the Illinois football program, but he saw his career come to an end with a torn labrum suffered on Nov. 1 against Ohio State. He was later removed from the team and didn’t travel for the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
In a statement, Beckman said that Cvijanovic withdrew from the program himself. Messages to Beckman and multiple members of the Illinois program weren’t returned.
“Simon Cvijanovic was a valued member of the University of Illinois football team,” Beckman said in the statement. “He chose to leave the team during the 2014 regular season and withdrew from the university before the end of the semester. Upon his return for the spring semester, we have continued to support him with medical care, an academic scholarship and academic advising. We cannot make any student accept our support.”
Beckman’s statement was supported by senior-to-be Ted Karras on Twitter.
“Simon quit on his brothers when we needed him most,” Karras tweeted. “These coaches let him stay on scholarship to finish his degree.”READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Warm Temps For The Bears Game
In later tweets, Cvijanovic alleges that head trainer Toby Harkins wasn’t licensed in the state of Illinois; that he’s “not the only horror story of abuse and misuse of power” from Beckman; and that he “quit football because the pressure to get back on the field was too much from (Beckman) and his staff.”
According to Cvijanovic, he attempted to meet with Beckman in his office on Friday and was kicked out.
Cvijanovic also alleged that Beckman is using his power of giving and taking scholarships away from keep current players from speaking out, adding that he has current players texting him with support.
Cvijanovic was one of the Illinois players who represented the team at Big Ten Media Days in July. It was then that he defended Beckman, who was under much scrutiny after two bowl-less seasons as head coach.
“We don’t want (program overhaul),” Cvijanovic said then. “We like coach Beckman. We like the coaches that we have. We like the atmosphere and environment. If we win in the system we’re in, we’ll all be very happy.”
When asked directly Sunday on Twitter about the quote, Cvijanovic responded: “What else would I say at the time? I hate Coach Beckman? It was a lie. That’s my response.”
Several other interview requests to former Fighting Illini football players weren’t immediately returned.
In stating his case, Cvijanovic spoke strongly in favor of unionization for college football players.
Asked when he plans to stop with the Twitter rant, Cvijanovic responded: “When will Coach Beckman be fired?”MORE NEWS: State Police Investigate Shooting On Kennedy Expressway Feeder Ramp
He’s still tweeting, with no end in sight.