(CBS) On the day he fired coach Tim Beckman after an external review confirmed mistreatment of players in the football program, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas maintained Friday that he’s proud of the culture at the university.
“The culture in our Division of Intercollegiate Athletics is tremendous,” Thomas said at a press conference in Champaign to announce Beckman’s firing. “I believe in our coaches and our staff and our student-athletes. I think they come to work every day and participate every day wearing integrity on their sleeve. It’s all about doing things the right way.”
Thomas’ words came after a law firm’s initial findings confirmed that Beckman deterred injury reporting and attempted to influence medical decisions during his tenure. He also threatened to take away scholarships from players in the spring semester of their senior year, after their commitment to the football team was done.
In addition, players have alleged mistreatment by coaches in the women’s soccer and women’s basketball programs. All of this has brought Thomas under intense scrutiny, with many wondering how he can lead another coaching search given the mess in his department.
Thomas outwardly expressed little concern about his job security when asked about it.
“I’m confident in the program that I’m leading,” Thomas said. “I know that when you’re trying to build a program — especially in a big-vision way — that you’re going to have obstacles and adversity along the way. Certainly I’m appreciative of the people we have working over at the DIA.
“It’s a wonderful place, we have wonderful people, we have wonderful fans. It’s about doing things the right way, and we’ll continue to move in that direction.”