Former Illini Cvijanovic Details Departure From Team On HBO
In his first national TV interview, former University of Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic says coaches conspired with team doctors so that he would continue play despite injuries. The linebacker whose social media comments led to the firing of coach Tim Beckman and athletic director Mike Thomas was interviewed for a Tuesday segment on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”
Cvijanovic was dealing with an ankle injury in 2013, in which initial reports expected him to miss six to eight weeks. He returned to the playing field eight days later.
Meanwhile, Cvijanovic says team doctors told him they’d wait until after the football season to examine his shoulder pain.
Cvijanovic told interviewer Jon Frankel that he later quit the team out of health concerns.
“I specifically told the doctors - this pain is becoming unbearable, and it’s affecting my mental health, because you guys aren’t accommodating it," he said. "It’s getting worse, and I don’t feel safe here.”
Cvijanovic says while he’s happy Beckman was fired, he suggests there’s nothing to keep another U of I coach from forcing someone to play while hurt.
He also says no one from the NCAA has contacted him.
"They don't want to know me," Cvijanovic told Frankel. "I don't really care to know them either."
The NCAA, the U of I, team doctors, and Beckman declined HBO’s requests for interviews.
But the university did release a statement to the network, saying "the health and well-being of student athletes is its number one priority, and that the team doctor said medical decisions regarding Cvijanovic weren’t altered or influenced by any member of the coaching staff."