Former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman will no longer serve as a volunteer assistant with No. 22 North Carolina.
The school issued statements saying Beckman was out Thursday night, a day after Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora defended allowing Beckman to work in the program a year after Illinois had fired him amid allegations of player mistreatment.
UNC had said Beckman could do scouting and film work, as well as interact with players but not instruct them as a coach. Fedora said he had conferred with athletic director Bubba Cunningham before bringing Beckman on at the start of training camp on the Chapel Hill campus, but chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement Thursday night she was “surprised and disappointed” after learning of Beckman’s role only a day earlier.
“The decision for Mr. Beckman to withdraw from his volunteer position was the right thing to do, and moving forward I don’t expect this situation to recur,” Folt said. “I continue to put a great deal of trust in Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham and Coach Fedora to educate and develop our student-athletes and to ensure we meet the high standards we all expect at Carolina.”
Beckman and Fedora were assistants together at Oklahoma State in 2007. Beckman said in a statement that Fedora’s “willingness to help a friend was a benefit both personally and professionally” but he didn’t want to be “a further distraction to the team or university.”
Illinois fired Beckman shortly before the 2015 opener after a law firm hired by the university concluded he interfered in player medical decisions and pressured players to play through injuries. Beckman denied the accusations and said he was considering legal steps to defend himself before receiving a $250,000 settlement from the school.
Fedora fielded several questions from reporters about Beckman after Wednesday’s practice. Asked about the perception of bringing Beckman into the program, Fedora responded: “I don’t believe everything I read, all right? I know Tim. I know his side of the story also. So I was comfortable with it.”
Fedora also added that: “I promise you, I didn’t see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football, you know? I mean, the guy didn’t win enough games, that’s all it was.”
In his statement Thursday, Fedora said he was trying to “help a friend gain experience from our staff” but said Beckman’s presence had become “too much of a distraction.”
“Coach Fedora’s interest was in helping a coaching colleague get back on his feet,” Cunningham said. “We will learn from this and continue preparing for the season.”
The Tar Heels beat the Illini 48-14 at home last season with Bill Cubit serving as Illinois’ interim coach. UNC visits Illinois, now led by former NFL coach Lovie Smith, on Sept. 10.
The Tar Heels open the season Sept. 3 against No. 18 Georgia in Atlanta.