There was little new information in a long report by CNN's Sara Ganim about the allegations toward the Illinois football and women's basketball programs, but it's a perfect example of how these serious issues aren't going away for a troubled Illini athletics department.
Last week, seven former members of the Illinois women's basketball program sued the school, head coach Matt Bollant, former assistant coach Matt Divilbiss and athletics director Mike Thomas for $10 million while alleging an environment of racial hostility that included segregated practices and different treatment of black and white players.
That brought renewed attention to the situation involving the women's basketball program, which started when players' families sent letters to the university, spurring an internal investigation where the university found no violated laws, rules or policies. After more letters, the university hired an outside law firm to conduct in independent review of the internal investigation. That review is ongoing.
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Also ongoing is an external investigation into allegations made toward the football program. In May, former Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic took to Twitter and unleashed tons of tweets accusing head coach Tim Beckman of being an abusive bully who lies to players about injuries, forces players to play hurt, demonizes injured players and threatens to take scholarships away from players.
Since Cvijanovic's social-media claims, several other players have joined his cause, though many other current and former members of the Illini football team have defended their team and their coach, as well.
Ganim's report included a couple accounts of Beckman physically going after players. One involved a current player who had his helmet grabbed and jerked around by Beckman. Another was the previously told tale of Kenny Knight, who described how he was grabbed and thrown to the ground by the coach during a practice. More interesting is Knight's account of the aftermath of that incident, where he said his father asked to watch the practice film to see the incident and there was a 35-second blank space where the incident had occurred.
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Knight and his father tried to look at the practice tape to review what happened.
"There was 35 seconds of blank screen. I could see the dial was moving to let me know that it was still playing, but there was no film to be seen. It wouldn't play for me or for anybody else," he said. Two other players said they, separately, also looked for the incident on the practice tape, but it was not there.
The university says the "dead time" between plays is not normally recorded during practice. Knight says Beckman called him the day after speaking to his father to apologize, but Knight never reported the incident to anyone at the university out of fear that he'd lose his scholarship. "He should never be allowed to coach again," Knight said.
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Former Illini Nick North was also interviewed for the report, and he has also been previously heard from since the beginning of this saga. The Daily Illini talked to North in May, and the former player described how Beckman pushed him to give up his scholarship after an injury.
North told Ganim: "They kept saying, 'You need to go back out there,' even though they knew I wasn't 100 percent. I'd literally be limping while running, and you could see it. ... They were like, 'If you can't do this, you're going to have to leave. You can't play here. We're going to take your scholarship.'"
Whether CNN's high-profile, national story will increase the negative attention surrounding the two under-fire programs and the under-fire athletics department remains to be seen. But these issues aren't going away. The next step would figure to be the conclusion of the external investigation and review, though the former women's basketball players did not wait before filing their lawsuit.