Former starting Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic made some serious accusations against Illini head coach Tim Beckman on Twitter Sunday, alleging abuse, improper medical care and unfair treatment of players. Beckman released a statement in response denying the allegations, as did athletic director Mike Thomas.
Chief in Cvijanovic's complaint is Beckman's alleged mishandling of a knee injury. Cvijanovic says Beckman and an unqualified medical staff forced him back on the field too early, causing irreparable damage:
I have to see therapy for the rest of my life because I wasn't given an option to have my knee repaired.— Simon Cvijanović (@IlliniSi) May 10, 2015
Toby Harkins worked for months as our head trainer and was not a licensed medical professional in the state of Illinois. He was fired.— Simon Cvijanović (@IlliniSi) May 10, 2015
Tuesday, Peter Bailey-Wells of the Illinois student paper talked to other former Beckman players about the allegations. One such player was former Illini defensive back Nick North, who suffered a serious injury and said Beckman "takes the cake as the worst coach I ever met."
North says he tore his PCL, and after Beckman pressured him back onto the field early, the coach allegedly pushed him to sign away his scholarship:
"For two weeks I took a drug test every day," Nick said. "He was blatantly trying to find something to kick me off the team."
Bailey-Wells also interviewed three of Beckman's former players at Toledo. One said Beckman often threatened to take players' scholarships as a motivation tactic, and another said he found ways for players he disliked to break the rules. A third said he didn't have "any hard feelings" toward the coach.
This isn't the first time Beckman's treatment of injured players has come under scrutiny:
Wednesday, another former Beckman player entered the fray. Former Illinois wide receiver Darius Millines alleged Beckman punished him for visiting his cancer-stricken father on his 50th birthday -- a birthday doctors said he would never reach.
Beckman made it very hard for me to go home and see my dad— Darius ✈ Millines (@TruSoulja15) May 13, 2015
I returned to campus and was made to feel by the coaching staff that I had hurt and let my team down— Darius ✈ Millines (@TruSoulja15) May 13, 2015
No but I shouldn't be put in the downstairs bathroom/locker room for it. https://t.co/xmtCvzK8zF— Darius ✈ Millines (@TruSoulja15) May 13, 2015
Beckman released a statement after the tweets from Cvijanovic, calling the lineman a "valued member" of the team and saying "we cannot make any student accept our support." He denied the allegations, saying the program had continued to offer medical care.
Athletic Director Thomas put his support behind Beckman:
#Illini AD Thomas: Beckman puts welfare of Simon and other players first.— Michael Carpenter (@FanboyCarp) May 11, 2015
#Illini AD Thomas: Feedback from student athlete exit interviews don't correspond with Simon's.— Michael Carpenter (@FanboyCarp) May 11, 2015
Beckman released a second statement Tuesday: