Illinois

Illinois has fired athletics director Mike Thomas as a 1,267 page report detailing a months-long investigation into the culture and practices of the Illini football program under former head coach Tim Beckman is set to be released at noon ET Monday. Paul Kowalczyk will serve as interim athletics director until a full-time replacement is hired.

Thomas sent the following email to university staff Monday morning:

Dear Fighting Illini Family,

Interim Chancellor Barb Wilson and the university will be announcing my departure as the Director of Athletics this morning. Paul Kowalczyk has agreed to serve as the interim AD until the position is filled.

Today, the campus will also be releasing the final Franczek Radelet P.C. reports into allegations related to sports medicine and scholarship management in our football program and women’s basketball programs. The reports indicate that I acted appropriately whenever I learned of any issues related to the safety and well-being of our students. But, I realize that my continued presence may create an ongoing distraction for our students, coaches and staff, and I accept the separation. I hope this allows everyone to turn the page and put the focus of this organization on the success and welfare of our student-athletes.

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, the classroom and in the community, and they exemplify the humility, dedication and work ethic that are hallmarks of this university. Those opportunities did not come by accident – but were achieved through your collective efforts to give these young men and women every chance to succeed. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to work alongside all of you here at Illinois.

Leaving is not easy. But my tenure has been guided by the simple idea that my job is to do whatever is best for Illinois. And that is what I am doing here today, one last time.

It has been my privilege to be part of this storied program and this great university.

Thank you,
Mike

Thomas fired Beckman on Aug. 28, saying at the time the preliminary results of the study were already enough to warrant a coaching change.

Bill Cubit has led the program to a 5-4 mark (2-3 Big Ten) as interim head coach. As for his involvement in injury reporting fiasco? “There is no indication that Coach Cubit said anything else inappropriate to the reporting player or evidence that he ever made inappropriate comments or pressured other players about injury issues,” the report said. “The lack of concerns raised by other players lends further credence to Cubit’s account, which we find credible.”

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.