Mac on Sports

Beckman Out at Illinois
    Tim Beckman has been fired as Illinois football head coach.
    One week before Illinois is scheduled to open at home against Kent State, Athletics Director Mike Thomas fired Beckman and named Bill Cubit as interim head coach.
    Thomas has scheduled a 3 p.m. press conference today (Friday) in Memorial Stadium to discuss the reasons behind his decision to end their relationship now.
    Citing preliminary results of an external review into allegations involving the program, Thomas decided to terminate his coach now before he begins his fourth season on the sidelines.
    The AD says the external review did not indicate any findings related to Coach Cubit.
    His appointment will be submitted to the board of trustees for their approval at their Sept. 10 meeting.
    Thomas said the external review did not indicate any findings related to Cubit.
    During a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers, Thomas said he learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries.  He also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren’t on the team.
    “Both of those findings are unsettling violations of University policy and practice and do not reflect the culture that we wish to create in athletic programs for our young people,” Thomas said.  “I expect my coaches to protect players and foster their success on and off the field.” 
    Beckman was 12-25 at Illinois, 4-20 in the Big Ten.  He will not receive the $3.1 million remaining on the last two years of his contract--or the $743,000 called for if his contract was bought out.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Mac on Sports
Lou Henson Is Going To Get Recognition He Deserves
    Lou Henson is going to get the recognition he so richly deserves and earns when the University of Illinois announces at a 1 p.m. Monday press conference in Memorial Stadium that the court in the newly-renovated State Farm Center will be named after him.
    This is something I have urged for weeks in my "Irish Stew"  column.
    Henson is the winningest coach in Illinois basketball history and took the Flyin' Illini to the Final Four in 1989 when they lost to Michigan in the semi-finals in Seattle.  Michigan went on to win the national championship that year.
    The press conference is being held in Memorial Stadium because SFC is not available because of the construction that is underway.
    The 83-year-old Henson is fighting through another health scare.
    Three cheers for the University of Illinois and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, including Athletic Director Mike Thomas and men's basketball head coach John Groce, for agreeing to make this happen.  They are doing the right thing.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Mac on Sports

McElroy Signs with Germany
    Brennan McElroy has signed to play professional basketball in Germany.
    McElroy, who excelled in his years of playing for the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds and St. Teresa, is headed to Saarlouis, Germany next week.
    Saarlouis is on the southern tip of Germany near the French border.
    Brennan is en route back to Decatur from Los Angeles with his brother, Connor, who has been serving an internship there.
    I will have more on this developing story, including an interview with Brennan, in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Mac on Sports

Applebee New Trojans AD
    The Maroa-Forsyth school board tonight (Monday) named Phil Applebee as the Trojans new athletic director.
    Applebee succeeds Josh Jostes, who resigned that post earlier to concentrate on teaching and football coaching.
    I will have more on this developing in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  Turn to the Decatur Tribune website for late breaking prep sports news.

Mac on Sports

Beckman Doesn't Bite
    After citing all the positives about quarterback Wes Lunt and numerous others, including freshman offensive lineman Gabe Megginson of Jacksonville, Illinois football head coach Tim Beckman was asked about last week's quote about the Illini football program by his predecessor Ron Zook, who is now special teams coach of the Green Bay Packers.
    Here's the quote that is causing considerable indigestion in Illini kingdom, "Put Nick Saban there (at Illinois), and it didn't's never going to change," Zook was quoted by a wire service."
    Beckman was asked to comment, but he didn't take the bait to get into a shouting match with the former Illini coach, saying, he didn't have time to get into that with his focus completely on this year's football team and their opener Sept. 4 against Kent State.
    "Coaching in the Big Ten has always been a dream of mine and this is a dream come true," said Beckman in response to the inquisitor.  He was asked a followup question about the challenges Illinois has that other Big Ten schools don't face, tougher academic standards.
    Beckman said coaching at a major university with strong academics is always a challenge.  Illinois has lost one recruit to neighboring Iowa after the student-athlete had already committed to the Fighting Illini, but admissions would not allow him to enroll.  Wisconsin's Athletic Director and former football head coach, Barry Alvarez, recently asked his admissions office to take another look at their standards after the Badgers lost recruits to other Big Ten schools, and after losing two head coaches to other universities because they were tired of fighting admissions over enrolling marginal student-athletes,
    An earlier story on this issue appears in my Irish Stew column this week in the Decatur Tribune.
    I will have more from Coach Beckman's late Sunday morning press conference in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Mac on Sports

Hits Keep Coming for Groce, Illini
    John Groce's Illini basketball team just took another hit with the news that Tracy Abrams will have surgery Aug. 5 to repair his torn achilles tendon, nearly 11 months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament that caused him to miss the entire 2014-15 season.
    Obviously, he will miss the entire 2015-16 season.
    “First of all, my heart goes out to Tracy. He went through so much the last 10 months fighting back from a torn ACL to return to the court this summer,” Illinois coach John Groce said in a statement. “This is obviously a very difficult time for him right now, but I’ve said it before, Tracy has the heart of a champion and I know that he will handle this latest setback with the same resolve and courage in making a full recovery.”
Mac on Sports

Mac on Sports
Renfro Resigns as LSA Girls Coach
    Kaleb Renfro, LSA's head girls basketball hoach, has resigned to accept a teaching and coaching position in Nebraska.  
    About Renfro's contributions to LSA, Athletic Director Kurt Younghouse said, " Last year was a rebuilding year for LSA and Kaleb was going to see the fruits of his effort this year.  The team had some success during their summer league hosted at LSA. 
    "LSA would like to thank Coach Renfro for his time and dedication to our program this past year.  We are excited for his new opportunities but we are sad to see him leave.  He was a great Christian role model for his team and school.  We wish him the best moving forward.
    Younghouse said LSA is currently accepting applicants for the position of head girls basketball coach.  Interested persons are asked to contact Athletic Director Kurt Younghouse at LSA, 217-233-2001 or by email
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Mac on Sports
Community Leaders Mourn Fallstrom's Passing
    Hall of Famer Bob Fallstrom has written his last "Good News" story which is sad news for the Decatur, Macon County and central Illinois communities who allowed him to come into their homes with his writings for the Decatur Herald and Review.
    The 88-year-old Fallstrom passed away Thursday at Decatur Memorial Hospital.
    Superintendent Lisa Taylor wrote, "I was saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Fallstrom as he is one of the good guys.  His love of sports and community are admirable and should remind us all of the importance of being supportive of Decatur.  His efforts as a journalist and specifically with the Turkey Tournament are commendable; he will be missed, but not forgotten."
    What's especially sad about Bob's passing is he will not get to help the Decatur School District 61 create an athletic Hall of Fame with his considerable expertise and knowledge of who did what when where and how from the many outstanding individuals and teams he covered during his more than six decades of writing for the Decatur daily as the superintendent had him as one of its members. 
    Team Soy Thanksgiving Tournament coordinator Mel Roustio opined, " Since moving to Decatur 17 years ago, I have become accustomed to opening the Herald -Review and quickly seeking a Fallstrom article, which was always informative and usually spiritually warm in nature. I shall miss that moment and I will miss interacting with Bob. 
    And retired Decatur orthopedist Dr. Joseph Schrodt shared this Fallstrom story with me recently when we met to talk about the Thanksgiving tournament with RCC Foundation President Richard McGowan.  Bob had fallen in San Francisco and had broken his ankle on one of his travelogues.  Fallstrom called Dr. Schrodt from there asking what he should do and the retired doctor told him to get back here to get it repaired.  Fallstrom flew back and got it treated here.  
    That's Fallstrom, he knew everyone and they knew him. 
    I will have more on his passing in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  

J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor
Decatur Tribune

Email Tom at

Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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