Illinois settles with ex female athletes, ex-coach Beckman
CHICAGO (AP) The University of Illinois said Tuesday that it will pay $375,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by seven former female basketball players and another $250,000 to resolve any legal claims made by fired football coach Tim Beckman.
The players will split the one-time payment, campus officials said, and the university Board of Trustees must approve the settlement at its May 19 meeting.
Through their attorney, Terry Ekl, the women said they are happy ''no other student athlete may have to experience what we have.'' Ekl said the university agreed to a series of steps to prevent a recurrence of the alleged conduct, including establishing a code of conduct for coaches and hiring a compliance officer to enforce it.
The lawsuit filed last year accused staff of creating a racially hostile environment. A university report found that accusations against coach Matt Bollant and an assistant, Mike Divilbiss, were unfounded, though Divilbiss quit.
The university offered an apology but said in a statement the settlement isn't an admission of wrongdoing on its part and it maintains evidence found in investigations doesn't support grievances from the women. The former athletes contend an investigation done by the law firm hired by the university proved their claims.
The university will pay for the settlement with money from its self-insurance plan.
Beckman was fired in August after a law firm hired by the university concluded he interfered in player medical decisions. The university said it stands by its decision, but agreed to the settlement to avoid costly litigation.
In a statement from the university, Beckman stated that during his tenure as head coach ''he made a substantial contribution to the lives of student-athletes he coached and to the university's football program.''
Beckman's settlement doesn't need approval from trustees.