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Headlinin’: Illinois trustees stage civil rights stand over Tim Beckman’s contract

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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Making the morning rounds.

Nothing personal, coach. Two University of Illinois trustees voted against the appointment of new head coach Tim Beckman Thursday, not out of opposition to Beckman, but to protest the fact that the school has never hired a black head coach in football or men's basketball. "African-Americans predominate these two sports," said trustee Lawrence Oliver, just before the board as a whole voted to approve Beckman's five-year, $9 million contract. "I would hope that as a university we find this shutout unacceptable."

In fact, Illinois interviewed two black candidates to replace Ron Zook, Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson (an Illinois alum), and reportedly offered the job to Sumlin, who turned the Illini down for Texas A&M. [The News-Gazette]

I can see this is going to go smoothly, part one. By all appearances, West Virginia is still planning to join the Big 12 this summer, even if it means paying damages to the Big East for leaving before the end of a mandatory 27-month waiting period. Three different lawyers told the Charleston Gazette Thursday that both sides will find a way to compromise on competing lawsuits — the university is suing in West Virginia to leave the conference without penalty; the Big East is counter-suing in Rhode Island to force the Mountaineers to stay for two more years — though one attorney called the case "unprecedented" in terms of competing jurisdictions and uncertain enforcement power. (A status conference on the suits is scheduled for Feb. 9.) At any rate, neither side appears to be working on a backup schedule if West Virginia remains in the Big East, and neither side is saying jack about any of it.

"I'm sworn to secrecy," said WVU athletic director Oliver Luck. "Lawyers, judges ... I'm not going to comment. My silence is all I can offer." [Charleston Gazette]

I can see this is going to go smoothly, part two. Several Penn State faculty are concerned about the independence of the university's "independent" investigation into the Sandusky child sex scandal, citing plans to submit two preliminary drafts of the final report to a special committee of the PSU Board of Trustees before releasing it to the public. The investigation is being led by former FBI chief Louis Freeh, who will recommend changes as part of the report.

"It was very easy to become suspicious about how fair this investigation is going to be," said one faculty member who attended a meeting with Freeh, speaking to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on condition of anonymity. "I find it very difficult for a contractor who is essentially hired by the Board of Trustees to do a thorough investigation of the Board of Trustees, especially if they are given the chance to look at a draft report and suggest changes that will be made before the report is released to the public." [ESPN]

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Only 12 more months until it actually counts. Yes, we're still more than a week away from putting a bow on the 2011-12 recruiting season, but Ohio State has already struck the first blow for 2013: Five-star Trotwood, Ohio, cornerback Cameron Burrows verbally committed to the Buckeyes on Thursday, predictably spurning Alabama and LSU for the lure of home and Urban Meyer's unique recruiting pheromones.

Rivals hasn't issued complete rankings for the 2013 class, but Burrows was one of a handful of high school juniors introduced last month as certain five-star prospects when the time comes. [Columbus Dispatch, Rivals]

The Rap Sheet. Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr is facing misdemeanor marijuana charges after campus police found less than 20 ounces of marijuana in his dorm room last week. According to a report, a Jan. 10 search of Orr's room turned up "a green leafy substance in a baggy," along with a glass pipe and rolling papers. A spokesman said coach Will Muschamp is aware of the incident and has handled the matter internally. [Gainesville Sun]

Quickly… Alabama welcomes eight early enrollees in the 2012 recruiting class, including five-star tailback T.J. Yeldon. … Michigan State effectively redshirted its entire 2011 recruiting class. … Running down the early short list to replace Brent Venables at Oklahoma. … Eric Berry's younger brothers say they've heard "nothing" from Tennessee. … Yale bans kegs at pre-game tailgates. ... Alabama updates its shrine to Saban. … And Utahans take their rivalries seriously.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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