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University of Illinois fires A.D. Mike Thomas

November 9, 2015 / Athletic Administration
The University of Illinois announced today it has parted ways with Athletic Director Mike Thomas following an external review of abuse allegations within the football and women’s basketball programs.

Mike Thomas Illinois
Former Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas speaks during a press conference in August.

The review concluded there were “no findings of misconduct and no violations of policies or standards” by Thomas, but Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson believes the decision “allows everyone to move forward.” Thomas was fired “without cause,” allowing him to collect a buyout from the university.

Head football coach Tim Beckman was fired this summer after an external review provided evidence of mistreatment of his players. Women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant, who is still with the university, was accused of creating a “culture of mental and emotional abuse” by his players.

Thomas released a statement following today’s announcement, saying he understood the university’s decision to make a change.

“I understand the administration’s decision to turn the page and turn the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes,” Thomas said. “The reports indicate that I acted appropriately and immediately whenever I learned of any issues related to the safety and well-being of our students. However, I understand the chancellor’s viewpoint that my continued presence may create an ongoing distraction for our students, coaches and staff, and I accept the situation.”

Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk was named interim athletic director.

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