According to Brian Bennett, Big Ten reporter for ESPN.com, the University of Illinois' Atheltic Department will be firing Mike Thomas following the release of an independent investigation. The investigation is set to be released at 11 AM today. Thomas' replacement will be Paul Kowalczyk, who previously served as Senior Associate Athletic Director.
The last year has been tough for Thomas, who had to balance mediocre athletic performance with scandal, leading to the firing of football Coach Tim Beckman after an outrageous athelete abuse scandal, as well as gain attention from other scandals in relation to head coaches from both the Womens Basketball and Soccer programs.
We will keep you updated as more information comes out, but in the mean time, you can read Bennett's tweets below, as a well as a statement from interim Chancellor Barb Wilson.
(Photo of Mike Thomas by Bradley Leeb, USA Today Sports)
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
I am announcing today that the campus is making a change in leadership at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA). Director of Athletics Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading DIA through recent challenges, but we have determined it is best to exercise the "without cause" separation clause in his contract. I have asked Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk to serve as interim director, and he has agreed.Today, we are 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. There were no findings of misconduct by the director of athletics and no violations of policies or standards by him in this review. But, I believe that in order to move forward and put the focus of the athletics program back on the success of student-athletes, a change in leadership is needed. These reports can be found at: http://go.illinois.edu/athleticreviewreports
DIA has achieved much under Mike’s leadership, including significant milestones in fundraising and steady improvements in the academic performance of our student-athletes. I am grateful to Mike for the work he has done at Illinois.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.
Regards,Barbara J. Wilson
Illinois has fired AD Mike Thomas. Releasing results of independent investigation into athletic department at noon ET— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015
Illinois investigation “found no misconduct by Thomas and no violations of policies or standards.” But school felt change was necessary.— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015
Illinois report: “Line between aggressive coaching and inappropriate influence regarding medical decisions may be difficult to define" 1/2— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015
2/2 "but it was clearly and systematically crossed under Coach Beckman’s leadership. "— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015
Illinois report says in spring 2014, Tim Beckman told team: “I don’t care if you’re hurt, everyone is practicing when we get back. …” 1/2— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015
2/2 No one cares if you’re hurt. "No one cares if you’re hurt. I don’t care. Your family may care. Northwestern doesn’t care.”— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015
Bill Cubit comes out looking clean in Illinois investigative report. But will there be guilt by association? Will new AD want his own guy?— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) November 9, 2015