Former Illini Football Player Cvijanovic Makes Harassment Allegations Against Coach Tim Beckman

Former University of Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic was out for blood on Twitter Sunday evening, unleashing an extended rant in which he ripped into coach Tim Beckman and made some significant allegations of harassment on the part of Beckman, who is headed into his fourth year as the Illini’s head coach.

Cvijanovic, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle, started 35 games over the course of his Illini career and finished his five years of eligibility this past season. Here’s a quick summary of Cvijanovic’s beef with Beckman:

  • Cvijanovic said he was forced to keep playing through unbearable pain, with Beckman and the coaching staff threatening to revoke his scholarship if he did anything about it. Cvijanovic said this is a common practice within the Illini football program, as players are called “soft” or “not a team player” if they attempt to seek medical attention, but then struggle to deal with medical bills once they are out of the program.
  • Specifically in Cvijanovic’s situation, he was forced to play with a torn meniscus. After continuing to practice and play with the injury, he now claims that his meniscus is completely gone and he will have to undergo physical therapy for the remainder of his life. He alleged that Beckman claimed that his knee pain was all “in his head”, and as a solution, he moved Cvijanovic, normally a left tackle, to the right side to give his injured left knee “a break”. After deciding to seek medical attention, Cvijanovic was not invited to the team’s bowl game or postseason banquet.
  • He mentioned that Beckman forces injured players to practice in purple jerseys and refers to them as “Cats”, which on the surface is a reference to the school’s in-state Big Ten rivals, the Northwestern Wildcats. Cvijanovic, however, also insinuates that this is a derogatory reference to the female anatomy.
  • Cvijanovic detailed an experience during which, while being recruited by Beckman while he was still at the University of Toledo, the coach claimed that Yoohoo chocolate drink, one of Toledo’s then-promotional partners, had more protein than Muscle Milk. (For reference, a standard eight-ounce bottle of Yoohoo contains two grams of protein, while the standard 11-ounce bottle of Muscle Milk includes 20 grams of protein).
  • He revealed that Toby Harkins, who worked as the school’s head trainer, was not a licensed medical professional in the state of Illinois. Harkins was later fired. Meanwhile, Cvijanovic said the players’ understanding is that team physician Dr. Robert Gurtler was fired more than two years ago, but is still listed by the athletic program as one of the school’s official physicians.
  • Without going into further detail, he mentioned that former Illini receiver Kenny Knight was “attacked” by Beckman during a 2013 practice.
  • Cvijanovic revealed that his brother, Peter, who is currently a member of the Illini football roster, was only allowed to join the program by his parents because the family didn’t think that Beckman would retain his job.

Cvijanovic went on to call for the immediate firing of Beckman, and expressed hope that student athletes would not be taken advantage of and extorted with their scholarships in the future. This rant is just the latest in a growing culture of revolt against the NCAA and the perception that athletes don’t have to work for their scholarships. Beyond any implications that Cvijanovic’s rant may bring for Beckman, it should be interesting to see if the stories create any changes to the NCAA’s policies.