Sports news

After working as both a news reporter and a sports reporter at The Daily Illini, I was able to combine the skills and sources and find important stories that didn’t fit into either category at The News-Gazette. This included a number of quick-hit investigations, as well as the coverage of player abuse scandals at the University of Illinois.

Player abuse scandal at University of Illinois

In my first month at The News-Gazette, player abuse scandals hit both the Illinois football and women’s basketball teams. I helped with fallout of the scandals, including coverage of the external investigations, lawsuit and firings of Football Coach Tim Beckman and Athletic Director Mike Thomas.

UPDATED: Former UI women’s basketball players file suit

Seven former Illini women’s basketball players filed a Title IX suit alleging they were racially discriminated against. This was the first story about the suit. I followed up by finding another player who also alleged mistreatment, and a former star player who said she wasn’t surprised by the allegations.

Updated: Former players’ attorney: $10 million lawsuit against UI, coaches stands

Breaking news coverage of the report that cleared the Illinois women’s basketball team of abuse allegations. Despite the report, the players continued with their lawsuit.

Long wait getting old for some

Homecoming weekend was 57 days after Football Coach Tim Beckman was fired, and the investigation that led to his firing hadn’t been finalized and published. What was taking so long?

Update: Report hits Beckman, clears Thomas

First look at the Franczek Radelet report in the football abuse scandal that led to the firings of Beckman and Thomas.

School pays $625,000 between Beckman, ex-UI athletes

In the last 12 months, the university’s athletic program spent nearly $6 million, and counting, on legal costs, settlements, coaching buyouts and consultants.

Experts: UI women’s basketball allegation unusual in scope

Two leading sports diversity experts say racism can be found across women’s college basketball, but not to the extent alleged in a federal lawsuit filed by seven former Illini.

At UI, outside help is in

After football and women’s basketball players complained, the University of Illinois opted to hire an outside law firm to investigate the allegations, even though its own preliminary inquiry into the basketball program had found no violations of applicable laws, university policy or NCAA regulations.

A harsh reality: Kersten Magrum must move on after concussions ended her Illini career

In 2013, Illinois women’s basketball player Kersten Magrum was forced to stop playing midway through her junior year after suffering from too many concussions. Later, the external investigation found that Magrum was the only player who had been mistreated by Bollant. Won Hearst Sportswriting Award 10th place.

Other stories

N-G EXCLUSIVE: Random drug tests, mixed results at UI

In 2014-15, University of Illinois athletes tested positive for banned drugs 65 times, more than in any school year in at least a decade. This was led by a sharp increase in positive drug tests in the football team. Coach Tim Beckman was fired because of a player abuse scandal that included allegations of targeted drug testing later that week.

UI wheels, deals for free rides

A look at how prevalent courtesy cars are in the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. The perk is worth more than $1.5 million to the 57 administrators, coaches and their wives who receive vehicles. Part of package that placed 3rd in Business and Economic Reporting category at Illinois Press Association.

That empty feeling

The decision to ship Illinois versus Northwestern football games off campus in 2015, ’17 and ’19 — after the IHSA moved its title games out of Memorial Stadium in odd-numbered years to accommodate Illinois-Northwestern games there — will mean a more expensive holiday weekend for local fans who travel and a far less profitable few days for local businesses. Part of package that placed 3rd in Business and Economic Reporting category at Illinois Press Association.

Lawsuit’s effect: Fans left with only generic jersey numbers

The O’Bannon case against the NCAA left fans without the ability to customize jersey numbers and without video games.

Coaches cash in – more or less

In addition to their salaries, University of Illinois coaches make money on everything from PGA Tour appearances and speaking arrangements to summer camps and jury duty. Part of package that placed 3rd in Business and Economic Reporting category at Illinois Press Association.

Texts few, far between at Illini games

Only 73 messages were sent to the 24/7 text message safety system used at Illinois football and basketball games between July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016.

Springfield’s loss for hosting Illini: $200,296.80

Springfield’s Prairie Capital Convention Center, which hosted one exhibition and the first four games of the regular season while the State Farm Center was being renovated, lost $200,296.80 in the deal after attendance figures failed to meet expectations.

‘Three-in-One’: The song remains the same

The chief local critic of many Illini fans’ most cherished symbol says it’s not enough that Chief Illiniwek has been banished. The “Three-in-One” — which thousands have risen to their feet, crossed their arms, stomped and shouted for at the 247 home men’s basketball and football games since the Chief’s official ouster — must go, too.

Illinois women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant trying new methods to fill Assembly Hall

The Illinois women’s basketball team had incredibly low attendance, and first-year coach Matt Bollant was trying new methods to correct that. Won Illinois College Press Award for Sports News 1st place.