On Monday morning, the University of Illinois held a press conference to announce the firing of Athletic Director Mike Thomas. Although Thomas wasn't in attendance, he still issued the following statement in an athletic department news release.
Statement from Mike Thomas:
I understand the administration's decision to turn the page and turn the focus of this organization back on the success and welfare of our student-athletes. The reports indicate that I acted appropriately and immediately whenever I learned of any issues related to the safety and well-being of our students. However, I understand the chancellor's viewpoint that my continued presence may create an ongoing distraction for our students, coaches and staff, and I accept the situation.
I am honored to have served in this role for the past four years and I am proud of the accomplishments of our students during this time - on and off of the field. They have excelled in competition, in the classroom and in the community, and they exemplify the humility, dedication and work ethic that are hallmarks of this university.
My tenure has always been guided by the simple idea that my job is to do whatever is best for the University of Illinois.
It has been my privilege to be part of this storied program and this great university. I will always cherish my time at this institution and in this community.
Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson also issued a statement of her own.
Statement from Barbara Wilson:
I am announcing today that the campus is implementing a change in leadership at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA). Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges, but we have determined it is best to exercise the "without cause" separation clause in his contract at this time.
There were no findings of misconduct and no violations of policies or standards by Mike in the reports on football and women's basketball completed by the external reviewers. We are releasing the Franczek Radelet P.C. reports today.
DIA has achieved much under Mike's leadership, including recording three of the four highest annual fundraising totals in DIA history, raising the overall GPA of student-athletes, securing the largest ever corporate naming gift at a college athletic facility, and, most recently, sweeping Big Ten conference championship titles in all four spring men's sports.
Decisions such as these are always difficult, but we all remain focused on the best interests of our student-athletes, and this decision allows everyone to move forward without the distractions of the past several months.