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Illinois women's basketball investigation finds no wrongdoing, discrimination

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Allegations of racism within the Illini program are unsupported.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

An independent investigation launched by the University of Illinois into claims of racial discrimination on the Illinois women's basketball team showed no wrongdoing.

The university released findings Monday morning of the investigation, which was conducted by Chicago law firm Pugh, Jones and Johnson and included more than 18,000 documents, 33 interviews, statements from eight players accusing coaches of mistreatment and review of game and practice video.

Seven former Illini women's basketball players have filed a lawsuit against the university, naming head coach Matt Bollant, former assistant coach Mike Divilbiss and athletic director Mike Thomas.

"We find any allegations troubling, because they don’t reflect our values," chancellor Phyllis Wise said in a statement. "Student-athletes are part of our Illinois family, and we want to ensure that their experiences are fulfilling, and that they are able to work toward an Illinois degree and prepare for lives of leadership and impact."

The 226-page report noted Divilbiss "treated players harshly in a number of incidents and more harshly overall than other coaches," but found "no evidence that he criticized players differently or more frequently because of their race."

In the release, Bollant and Divilbiss "acknowledged that the tone of their coaching at times was too negative," but that the review found no evidence that constituted racial discrimination or harassment.

The report "recommends steps for clarifying expectations regarding coaches' conduct, better defining the coach-parent relationship and enhancing resources for student-athletes to report concerns or complaints about their experience at Illinois."

"Going forward, we must ensure that our coaches and staff members have a clearer understanding of our core values and expectations, and that our student-athletes never ever feel they have nowhere to go when they have concerns," Wise said.

Bollant has remained the team's head coach since the former players made their allegations -- Divilbiss left the program in May. The Illini start their season in November.

The ongoing investigations into the Illinois football program and the women's basketball sports medicine program have no declared end date.