Current and former Illinois players took to Twitter on Thursday in support of coach Tim Beckman and the program as the university prepares to investigate claims of mistreatment made by former Fighting Illini player Simon Cvijanovic.
Using the hashtag #ProudIllini, several players said Beckman and his staff managed their injuries correctly and didn't push or bully players. Illinois senior Ted Karras, who played alongside Cvijanovic on the offensive line, tweeted that Beckman, offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and offensive line coach Tom Brattan all checked in with him daily after he underwent knee surgery late last fall.
After I had surgery on my knee, Coach Beckman, Cubit, and Brattan checked in on me every day to see how I was doing. #Proudillini— Teddy Karras (@_teddy_k) May 14, 2015
Former Illinois wide receiver/safety Steve Hull, who endured several injuries during his career, tweeted that he never was forced to play through pain.
Throughout ALL my injuries - I was never forced to play. Always taken care of and made my own choices to fight through them. #ProudIllini— SteveHull19 (@SteveHull5) May 14, 2015
Cvijanovic tweeted his grievances with the program and particularly Beckman on Sunday, alleging the coach pushed him to play through injury and discarded him after he endured psychological problems last year in the wake of career-ending shoulder and knee injuries.
Athletic director Mike Thomas on Monday said Beckman never has compromised the welfare of his players.
The Illinois chancellor's office is organizing a review of Cvijanovic's claims.
Illinois linebacker Mason Monheim tweeted Thursday that the coaches gave him the option to undergo season-ending groin surgery as a freshman, but that he postponed it until after the season because of his commitment to the team. Former Illinois defensive lineman Corey Liuget, who never played for Beckman, tweeted that Beckman and the coaches welcomed him as he finished spring semester classes at the university.
Cvijanovic also tweeted under the #ProudIllini hashtag Thursday, saying he will continue to support Illinois but that athletes' rights should not be undermined.
"I will always be an Illini and love my school," he wrote. "Stand strong Illini, against abuse and underrepresentation of athletes! #IlliniStrong.
"I will continue to support this university and I will always give back as much as I can, this is just the first step #ProudIllini."
He also spoke out against the past and present Illinois players backing Beckman.
"It's funny how all these guys raising Beckman propaganda are the same guys who have been completely absent in my recovery," he tweeted.
Illinois' coaches made a previously scheduled return from the recruiting trail Thursday. The university has yet to outline a timetable for the review.