Illinois Dismisses AD Amid Abuse Allegations

Mike Thomas' time is up as Athletic Director at Illinois after an investigation into the mishandling of injuries within the football team.

After a tempestuous year filled with allegations from the women's basketball team of racial intolerance and football players speaking out against abuse allegations, Mike Thomas is no longer the Illinois athletic director. It began when former tackle Simon Cvijanovic spoke out against unfair and reprehensive treatment when it came to injuries and treatment of players from coaches. Illinois' players were encouraged to play through their injuries or face possibly losing their place on the team and their scholarship money. The university and Thomas reached a separation agreement and released the final report of the investigation into the abuse allegations. Read the full report here.

UI associate athletic director Paul Kowalczyk has been appointed interim athletic director by interim chancellor Barbara Wilson. Kowalczyk previously served as athletic director at Colorado State and Southern Illinois. They will speak at an 11 a.m. press conference.

Interim coach Bill Cubit will speak at his regularly scheduled 1 p.m. Monday press conference. The investigation found "a lack of evidence of misconduct by the assistants" on the Illini staff, meaning they have all been cleared of wrongdoing that led to Beckman's dismissal on Aug. 28, one week prior to the Illini's season opener.

UPDATES FROM 11 a.m. PRESS CONFERENCE

Full press release from the University of Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced today the campus will make a change in leadership of its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics by exercising a “without cause” separation clause in Director of Athletics Mike Thomas’ contract.  Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk (kuh-WALL-check) has been appointed interim director, effective immediately. Kowalczyk has been with the Illinois program since 2012. He previously served as director of athletics at Colorado State University and Southern Illinois University. 

The university also released the final reports by the law firm Franczek Radelet P.C., of Chicago, into allegations related to sports medicine and scholarship management in its football and women’s basketball programs. Preliminary findings from these investigations led to the Aug. 28 termination of former head football coach Tim Beckman.

Wilson said the reports found no misconduct by Thomas and no violations of policies or standards, but said a change in leadership was needed in order to move forward and put the focus of the athletics program on the success of the student-athletes.

“Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges,” Wilson said. “Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we have to focus on the best interests of our student-athletes. I believe this decision allows everyone to move forward.”

Thomas said he believes that the reports indicate he acted appropriately and immediately when he learned of any issues related to the welfare of student-athletes, but that he accepts the situation. “I believe it is a good time to turn the page and put the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes,” Thomas said.

The Franczek Radelet investigation included a review of more than 200,000 documents and 100 interviews with players, former players, coaches and medical and athletic staff. The football report states that while Beckman supported student-athlete welfare in various respects, he also employed tactics that violated standards related to sports medicine protocols and scholarships. The report on women’s basketball states that coaches did not inappropriately push student-athletes and that student-athlete scholarship commitments were honored.

The university initiated the investigation in May when former members of the athletics program raised complaints about their treatment. Thomas requested that the Office of the Chancellor initiate an independent investigation into the allegations.

Wilson said she accepts the findings and is committed to addressing any continuing concerns the reports raise.

Thomas became the director of athletics in August 2011.

Statement from Barbara J. Wilson, Interim Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I am announcing today that the campus is implementing a change in leadership at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA). Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges, but we have determined it is best to exercise the “without cause” separation clause in his contract at this time.

There were no findings of misconduct and no violations of policies or standards by Mike in the reports on football and women’s basketball completed by the external reviewers. We are releasing the Franczek Radelet P.C. reports today.

DIA has achieved much under Mike’s leadership, including recording three of the four highest annual fundraising totals in DIA history, raising the overall GPA of student-athletes, securing the largest ever corporate naming gift at a college athletic facility, and, most recently, sweeping Big Ten conference championship titles in all four spring men’s sports.

Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we all remain focused on the best interests of our student-athletes, and this decision allows everyone to move forward without the distractions of the past several months.

 

Statement from Mike Thomas

I understand the administration’s decision to turn the page and turn the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes. The reports indicate that I acted appropriately and immediately whenever I learned of any issues related to the safety and well-being of our students. However, I understand the chancellor’s viewpoint that my continued presence may create an ongoing distraction for our students, coaches and staff, and I accept the situation.

I am honored to have served in this role for the past four years and I am proud of the accomplishments of our students during this time – on and off of the field. They have excelled in competition, in the classroom and in the community, and they exemplify the humility, dedication and work ethic that are hallmarks of this university.

My tenure has always been guided by the simple idea that my job is to do whatever is best for the University of Illinois.

It has been my privilege to be part of this storied program and this great university. I will always cherish my time at this institution and in this community.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories

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Barbara Wilson: In order to move forward, I think a change in leadership atop the DIA is necessary.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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Barbara Wilson: I want to be clear, these reports found no misconduct by Mike Thomas. He's done a good job of leading DIA through challenges

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
\n
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Barbara Wilson: But it's time to put the distraction of the past few months behind us and focus on success of student-athletes.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
\n
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Barbara Wilson: Not making any decisions now on the future of the football coach. That comes after the season.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
\n
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Barbara Wilson: We won't make any decisions about the coach until the season is over. I think Coach Cubit is doing a great job.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
\n
\n

Barbara Wilson: Athletics to me is like the front porch of the university. It's important we have a great athletic program.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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Kowalczyk: \"Challenging cricumstances with which to take\" charge over.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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Kowalczyk: Don't know what you can accomplish right now in searching for a coach. Do it after the season.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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\n

Kowalczyk on possibly hiring coach as an interim AD: Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. They'd be coming to a great university.

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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Kowalczyk: Illinois should be a destination job for a football coach

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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Barbara Wilson: Buyout for Mike Thomas is $2.5 million. Comes out of athletic budget

\n— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015
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Full press release from the University of Illinois

\n

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced today the campus will make a change in leadership of its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics by exercising a “without cause” separation clause in Director of Athletics Mike Thomas’ contract.  Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk (kuh-WALL-check) has been appointed interim director, effective immediately. Kowalczyk has been with the Illinois program since 2012. He previously served as director of athletics at Colorado State University and Southern Illinois University. 

\n

The university also released the final reports by the law firm Franczek Radelet P.C., of Chicago, into allegations related to sports medicine and scholarship management in its football and women’s basketball programs. Preliminary findings from these investigations led to the Aug. 28 termination of former head football coach Tim Beckman.

\n

Wilson said the reports found no misconduct by Thomas and no violations of policies or standards, but said a change in leadership was needed in order to move forward and put the focus of the athletics program on the success of the student-athletes.

\n

“Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges,” Wilson said. “Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we have to focus on the best interests of our student-athletes. I believe this decision allows everyone to move forward.”

\n

Thomas said he believes that the reports indicate he acted appropriately and immediately when he learned of any issues related to the welfare of student-athletes, but that he accepts the situation. “I believe it is a good time to turn the page and put the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes,” Thomas said.

\n

The Franczek Radelet investigation included a review of more than 200,000 documents and 100 interviews with players, former players, coaches and medical and athletic staff. The football report states that while Beckman supported student-athlete welfare in various respects, he also employed tactics that violated standards related to sports medicine protocols and scholarships. The report on women’s basketball states that coaches did not inappropriately push student-athletes and that student-athlete scholarship commitments were honored.

\n

The university initiated the investigation in May when former members of the athletics program raised complaints about their treatment. Thomas requested that the Office of the Chancellor initiate an independent investigation into the allegations.

\n

Wilson said she accepts the findings and is committed to addressing any continuing concerns the reports raise.

\n

Thomas became the director of athletics in August 2011.

\n

Statement from Barbara J. Wilson, Interim Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

\n

I am announcing today that the campus is implementing a change in leadership at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA). Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges, but we have determined it is best to exercise the “without cause” separation clause in his contract at this time.

\n

There were no findings of misconduct and no violations of policies or standards by Mike in the reports on football and women’s basketball completed by the external reviewers. We are releasing the Franczek Radelet P.C. reports today.

\n

DIA has achieved much under Mike’s leadership, including recording three of the four highest annual fundraising totals in DIA history, raising the overall GPA of student-athletes, securing the largest ever corporate naming gift at a college athletic facility, and, most recently, sweeping Big Ten conference championship titles in all four spring men’s sports.

\n

Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we all remain focused on the best interests of our student-athletes, and this decision allows everyone to move forward without the distractions of the past several months.

\n

 

\n

Statement from Mike Thomas

\n

I understand the administration’s decision to turn the page and turn the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes. The reports indicate that I acted appropriately and immediately whenever I learned of any issues related to the safety and well-being of our students. However, I understand the chancellor’s viewpoint that my continued presence may create an ongoing distraction for our students, coaches and staff, and I accept the situation.

\n

I am honored to have served in this role for the past four years and I am proud of the accomplishments of our students during this time – on and off of the field. They have excelled in competition, in the classroom and in the community, and they exemplify the humility, dedication and work ethic that are hallmarks of this university.

\n

My tenure has always been guided by the simple idea that my job is to do whatever is best for the University of Illinois.

\n

It has been my privilege to be part of this storied program and this great university. I will always cherish my time at this institution and in this community.

","mobileBody":"

After a tempestuous year filled with allegations from the women's basketball team of racial intolerance and football players speaking out against abuse allegations, Mike Thomas is no longer the Illinois athletic director. It began when former tackle Simon Cvijanovic spoke out against unfair and reprehensive treatment when it came to injuries and treatment of players from coaches. Illinois' players were encouraged to play through their injuries or face possibly losing their place on the team and their scholarship money. The university and Thomas reached a separation agreement and released the final report of the investigation into the abuse allegations. Read the full report here.

UI associate athletic director Paul Kowalczyk has been appointed interim athletic director by interim chancellor Barbara Wilson. Kowalczyk previously served as athletic director at Colorado State and Southern Illinois. They will speak at an 11 a.m. press conference.

Interim coach Bill Cubit will speak at his regularly scheduled 1 p.m. Monday press conference. The investigation found \"a lack of evidence of misconduct by the assistants\" on the Illini staff, meaning they have all been cleared of wrongdoing that led to Beckman's dismissal on Aug. 28, one week prior to the Illini's season opener.

UPDATES FROM 11 a.m. PRESS CONFERENCE

Barbara Wilson: With these investigations, it's time to take stock ... and boldly move forward.\"

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: In order to move forward, I think a change in leadership atop the DIA is necessary.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: I want to be clear, these reports found no misconduct by Mike Thomas. He's done a good job of leading DIA through challenges

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: But it's time to put the distraction of the past few months behind us and focus on success of student-athletes.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: Not making any decisions now on the future of the football coach. That comes after the season.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: We won't make any decisions about the coach until the season is over. I think Coach Cubit is doing a great job.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: Athletics to me is like the front porch of the university. It's important we have a great athletic program.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Kowalczyk: \"Challenging cricumstances with which to take\" charge over.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Kowalczyk: Don't know what you can accomplish right now in searching for a coach. Do it after the season.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Kowalczyk on possibly hiring coach as an interim AD: Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. They'd be coming to a great university.

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Kowalczyk: Illinois should be a destination job for a football coach

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Barbara Wilson: Buyout for Mike Thomas is $2.5 million. Comes out of athletic budget

— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) November 9, 2015

Full press release from the University of Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced today the campus will make a change in leadership of its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics by exercising a “without cause” separation clause in Director of Athletics Mike Thomas’ contract. Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk (kuh-WALL-check) has been appointed interim director, effective immediately. Kowalczyk has been with the Illinois program since 2012. He previously served as director of athletics at Colorado State University and Southern Illinois University.

The university also released the final reports by the law firm Franczek Radelet P.C., of Chicago, into allegations related to sports medicine and scholarship management in its football and women’s basketball programs. Preliminary findings from these investigations led to the Aug. 28 termination of former head football coach Tim Beckman.

Wilson said the reports found no misconduct by Thomas and no violations of policies or standards, but said a change in leadership was needed in order to move forward and put the focus of the athletics program on the success of the student-athletes.

“Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges,” Wilson said. “Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we have to focus on the best interests of our student-athletes. I believe this decision allows everyone to move forward.”

Thomas said he believes that the reports indicate he acted appropriately and immediately when he learned of any issues related to the welfare of student-athletes, but that he accepts the situation. “I believe it is a good time to turn the page and put the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes,” Thomas said.

The Franczek Radelet investigation included a review of more than 200,000 documents and 100 interviews with players, former players, coaches and medical and athletic staff. The football report states that while Beckman supported student-athlete welfare in various respects, he also employed tactics that violated standards related to sports medicine protocols and scholarships. The report on women’s basketball states that coaches did not inappropriately push student-athletes and that student-athlete scholarship commitments were honored.

The university initiated the investigation in May when former members of the athletics program raised complaints about their treatment. Thomas requested that the Office of the Chancellor initiate an independent investigation into the allegations.

Wilson said she accepts the findings and is committed to addressing any continuing concerns the reports raise.

Thomas became the director of athletics in August 2011.

Statement from Barbara J. Wilson, Interim Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I am announcing today that the campus is implementing a change in leadership at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA). Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges, but we have determined it is best to exercise the “without cause” separation clause in his contract at this time.

There were no findings of misconduct and no violations of policies or standards by Mike in the reports on football and women’s basketball completed by the external reviewers. We are releasing the Franczek Radelet P.C. reports today.

DIA has achieved much under Mike’s leadership, including recording three of the four highest annual fundraising totals in DIA history, raising the overall GPA of student-athletes, securing the largest ever corporate naming gift at a college athletic facility, and, most recently, sweeping Big Ten conference championship titles in all four spring men’s sports.

Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we all remain focused on the best interests of our student-athletes, and this decision allows everyone to move forward without the distractions of the past several months.

Statement from Mike Thomas

I understand the administration’s decision to turn the page and turn the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes. The reports indicate that I acted appropriately and immediately whenever I learned of any issues related to the safety and well-being of our students. However, I understand the chancellor’s viewpoint that my continued presence may create an ongoing distraction for our students, coaches and staff, and I accept the situation.

I am honored to have served in this role for the past four years and I am proud of the accomplishments of our students during this time – on and off of the field. They have excelled in competition, in the classroom and in the community, and they exemplify the humility, dedication and work ethic that are hallmarks of this university.

My tenure has always been guided by the simple idea that my job is to do whatever is best for the University of Illinois.

It has been my privilege to be part of this storied program and this great university. I will always cherish my time at this institution and in this community.

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