-- Just one week before their season opener, the Illinois Fighting Illini have fired football coach Tim Beckman amid allegations of influencing medical decisions and pressuring players to play hurt, athletic director Mike Thomas announced Friday.
In a statement, Thomas said the dismissal was related to preliminary results of an external review into allegations, which also included efforts to avoid reporting players' injuries.
"The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I've chosen to act accordingly," Thomas said. "During the review, we have asked people not to rush to judgment, but I now have enough information to make this decision in assessing the status and direction of the football program."
Thomas, who informed the team Friday of the decision to fire Beckman, said in the statement that there were instances in which players were treated inappropriately as to whether they could remain on scholarship during their senior year if they weren't on the team.
"Both of those findings are unsettling violations of University policy and practice and do not reflect the culture that we wish to create in athletic programs for our young people," Thomas said in the statement. "I expect my coaches to protect players and foster their success on and off the field."
Bill Cubit, who was hired as offensive coordinator in 2013, will take over as the team's interim coach. Illinois opens the season next Friday against Kent State.
Just before Illinois announced Beckman's dismissal, his Twitter account made reference to the team's upcoming opener.