Illinois receivers coach banned 1 game for helping recruit
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) A day after Illinois coach Tim Beckman implored news media to stick to positive coverage of his team, the school confirmed that assistant coach Mike Bellamy has been suspended by the NCAA for one game for improperly helping a recruit get an associate's degree.
The university released documents Thursday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that show the school contacted the NCAA in January 2015 to see if Bellamy had violated any rules. The NCAA ruled in December that he had provided an extra benefit to a student.
Bellamy coaches Illinois' wide receivers. The story was first reported Thursday by The Daily Illini, the student newspaper at the university.
According to the documents, Bellamy visited a community college in January 2014 after Illinois discovered that a recruit from the school who had enrolled at Illinois for the spring 2014 had not completed his associate's degree. The student dropped out of Illinois and Bellamy arranged for him to take an online class to complete the degree. The University of Illinois redacted the names of the student and the community college from the documents.
The documents also included an April 2014 letter from Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas in which he said the decision to visit the community college ''demonstrated poor judgment,'' something Thomas said he was ''very concerned'' about. He indicated he had also discussed it with the two coaches in person.
In a printed statement this week, Beckman said he will accept the NCAA decision.
''It was disappointing to learn the NCAA chose to classify this as a violation,'' he said, adding that Bellamy will miss the 2015 opener against Kent State.
NCAA officials did not respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Beckman spent much of his signing day news conference telling reporters they should be more positive and help build up the Illinois football program.
''I'm going to put it on you. What are you saying?'' Beckman said to reporters Wednesday as he announced his best signing class at Illinois. ''How important is the University of Illinois to you? Because It's very, very important to us.''