CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Next up for Bill Cubit is Illinois' season opener against Kent State, and that's it. The interim coach is focused on what he can control at the troubled school.
Cubit takes over for Tim Beckman after he was fired a week before the prime-time game against the Golden Flashes. An ongoing investigation found Beckman tried to influence medical decisions and pressure players to play with injuries; he denies the allegations and could take legal action.
Now Cubit faces the difficult task of preparing his team for the upcoming season at a university where instability has become the rule.
"I don't worry about three months from now, I don't worry about two months from now, I worry about today," Cubit said Friday afternoon, hours after Beckman was fired.
Athletic director Mike Thomas said hiring a new coach could be months away.
The power structure at the university could have a much different look by the time that move is finalized.
Two top administrative positions are open after a pair of unexpected resignations, and two lawsuits related to other sports — both of which name Thomas as a defendant — remain to be litigated.
Beckman was headed into his fourth season at Illinois. Thomas said he consulted with interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson, but it was his decision to let Beckman go.
Wilson took over after Phyllis Wise resigned right before the university disclosed that she and others used private e-mails to discuss sensitive university business without public scrutiny. The No. 2 administrator on campus, Provost Ilesanmi Adesida, followed with his own resignation announcement.
The lawsuits by seven former women's basketball players alleging racial abuse by coach Matt Bollant — a Thomas hire who has denied any wrongdoing — and a former soccer player alleging she was improperly cleared to play after a concussion had already put pressure on Thomas. Now Beckman, Thomas' first hire at Illinois, is gone.
University President Timothy Killeen, himself just a few months into the job, plans to hire a permanent chancellor in six to nine months.
Thomas said Friday he's confident in the job he's doing, and insisted the problems the investigators say they found in Beckman's program didn't reflect the culture Thomas is building.