Big Ten

Advocacy group asks for independent investigation into Beckman

Big Ten

Among the many points being made by Simon Cvijanovic in his string of accusatory tweets toward Tim Beckman and the Illinois football program is that student athletes have little voice and require better representation. He's even mentioned unionization.

We've heard that idea before, notably from former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, when he attempted to form a union among Northwestern football players more than a year ago.

One of the people standing beside Colter in his effort was Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the National College Players Association, an advocacy group for student athletes. Huma and his group have now dipped their toes in the waters of the Cvijanovic situation with Illinois, calling for an independent investigation into Beckman and the football program.

Cvijanovic has made many claims over the past few days, and he's talked with traditional media outlets since. At every turn, he's accused Beckman of abusing and bullying his players, lying about medical procedures, pressuring players to play injured, threatening to take players' scholarships away and vilifying injured players.

It's certainly been enough to attract the attention of Huma and those fighting for student-athlete rights. Huma sent a letter to University of Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise with his request for an independent investigation and said he expects a response by Friday. This after Illinois athletics director Mike Thomas refused to say Monday that there would be a formal investigation, instead saying he would "follow up" and that any findings would not be made public. In his comments, Thomas also supported Beckman and said that the picture of the program painted by Cvijanovic doesn't match up with comments from other players.

 

[MORE BIG TEN: Another ex-Illini speaks out against Tim Beckman]

Here's an excerpt from Huma's letter:

Illinois’ athletic director Mike Thomas announced to media that he would conduct an internal review of this situation in conjunction with your office. However, media reports state that Mr. Thomas announced his conclusions that Beckman has put Simon’s welfare above everything else and that his medical staff always follows protocols and procedures. In making such statements, Mr. Thomas has compromised the integrity of his review by making conclusions before he collected any evidence to back his conclusions. In addition, it is unreasonable to expect players who may be subject to abusive treatment to speak honestly to athletic program and university officials that can easily identify them. Finally, the media reported that Mr. Thomas intends on keeping the findings from the public.

As Mr. Thomas stated, Simon has made serious accusations. In response, it is responsibility of the University of Illinois to ensure that a serious investigation takes place. For these reasons, the NCPA is calling on the University of Illinois to act immediately to commission an independent investigation into this matter, and to release the findings to the public.

Huma wrote that if Cvijanovic's claims are verified, the university should fire those responsible and give student athletes the ability to anonymously report future abuses.