Categories
Illini basketball

Exonerating Jaylon Tate: Why the delay?

UPDATE: Surveillance video will clear Jaylon Tate 

I have a theory about the Jaylon Tate case. Specifically, I have a theory about its continued existence.

I assume the state’s attorney’s office, U of I and Champaign police departments have not dropped the case because doing so would start the clock on release of FOIA materials. As long as formal charges are pending, those materials remain privileged.

All three of those agencies have an interest in keeping Jaylon Tate’s police reports secret, for two reasons.

The main reason should be obvious: law enforcement is still investigating the case, whether in hopes of charging the real perpetrator, or to bring obstruction/false statements charges. The other reason is Kendrick Nunn’s arrest on similar charges, and how the Tate case might affect that investigation.

That’s speculation. Now, here are some facts: The victim was hit in the face, yes. Jaylon Tate didn’t do it. The victim did not want Jaylon Tate arrested.

Did she falsely claim that she had a relationship with Jaylon Tate? Probably not. We’d want to know the specifics: What exactly were the questions, and what precisely were her answers?  They were never boyfriend and girlfriend, but as you’ll see below, Illinois law is murky, giving cops great leeway to charge domestic battery. In fact, because this particular Illinois statute gives cops an option to arrest without a warrant, it tacitly encourages them to make inferences about relationships.

All of that should be in the police report, which will be publicly available at some point.

Complicating the matter is the fact that the victim also didn’t want, and likely continues not to want the culpable party arrested. We’ll call that person C, for culpable.

The person who seems to have done the most communicating with the police is neither the victim nor C, but is closely acquainted with both of them. Perhaps she didn’t know she was giving false statements to the police. Perhaps she was merely naïve. We’ll call her N, for naïve.

Here’s what happened: The victim arrived at N’s apartment late at night. N saw the the victim had been injured, and naturally wanted to know what happened, to see justice served, etc.

To be clear, the preceding paragraph is not speculation. It’s not my theory. It’s fact.

Although I’m speculating about the mindset of the persons involved, and the state’s attorney’s delay in exonerating Jaylon Tate;  I am not speculating about who punched the victim, nor who reported it to the police.

Now, let’s jump back in time. Earlier that night, as has been well documented publicly, two girls were asked to leave a party.  One of those girls was the victim. Reports have already told you Tate was at the party.

So you can infer that Tate was a subject of discussion with those two girls. N was not one of these two girls. She enters the story only after the victim got hit in the face.

Add

  • alcohol
  • the very late hour
  • the fact that the victim didn’t want to talk about what happened

and you can see why N was confused.

Much more important, however, is whether C was standing in the room while N demanded to know what happened. Did the victim tell N that Jaylon Tate punched her? Did C tell N that Tate was the perpetrator? Did neither the victim, nor C tell N that Jaylon Tate did it, only to have N conclude it was Jaylon after hearing a separate (and let’s assume hazily told) story of Tate telling them to leave the party?

(For what it’s worth, Tate was not — per any source queried on this question — the person that asked the girls to leave the party.)

Why would the victim cover for C?  Perhaps it’s due to the chronic psychological condition which, in the old days, people called Battered Wives Syndrome. Now it’s been redefined as battered person syndrome, which is a lot more inclusive but sounds far less chilling.

It’s also possible that the victim simply felt as if she’d gotten the worse of a fight for which she was equally responsible, and didn’t feel it was right to press charges. Maybe that’s fair. It certainly doesn’t fall outside the parameters of BPS.

Does theory one suggest the victim and C were/are involved in a relationship of some description? Yes, it does, especially in the loosely defined sense contemplated by Illinois law, cited below.

N may or may not have known about this relationship. And if you’ve ever been a teenager in love, lust or infatuation, you can imagine how the victim felt about it. Does C really like me? Are we “officially” going out?

 

Talking to one player’s family this year, I remember a particular colloquy about modern dating: “They’ve been going out for 8 months, and (student-athlete) still doesn’t call (seemingly significant other) his girlfriend.”

Maybe C hit the victim out of jealousy, specifically because the victim wanted to attend a party at Jaylon Tate’s place.  How would the victim respond, emotionally? Wow, C really cares about me! I should not have goaded C this way. Something along those lines sounds depressingly familiar.

All of this would be irrelevant except that the victim surely perceived something dire in the line of questioning from the cops. Can we assume that a kind, calm police officer explained to the victim — perhaps in the immediate presence of C and N — that a charge of domestic battery would  remove of the perpetrator and/or require mandatory jail custody?

Illinois is not among the states that requires police to remove abusive husbands from any home investigated for a domestic disturbance. But Illinois specifically allows sworn officers to arrest suspected domestic offenders without a warrant.

(750 ILCS 60/Art. III heading)

ARTICLE III LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES (750 ILCS 60/301) (from Ch. 40, par. 2313-1)

Sec. 301. Arrest without warrant. (a) Any law enforcement officer may make an arrest without warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed or is committing any crime, including but not limited to violation of an order of protection, under Section 12-3.4 or 12-30 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012, even if the crime was not committed in the presence of the officer.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 comes under the heading FAMILIES. But the text includes language which broadens its scope dramatically.The victim did know Jaylon Tate, yes. Do they have, or did they ever have the type of relationship that might spawn a charge of domestic battery under Illinois law?

(6) “Family or household members” include spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, and caregivers as defined in Section 12-4.4a of the Criminal Code of 2012. For purposes of this paragraph, neither a casual acquaintanceship nor ordinary fraternization between 2 individuals in business or social contexts shall be deemed to constitute a dating relationship. In the case of a high-risk adult with disabilities, “family or household members” includes any person who has the responsibility for a high-risk adult as a result of a family relationship or who has assumed responsibility for all or a portion of the care of a high-risk adult with disabilities voluntarily, or by express or implied contract, or by court order.

Tate’s attorney Tom Bruno explained over the phone that he and I don’t have a dating relationship, because we’ve never had lunch together. But he asked rhetorically whether, if we’d had lunch three times, that might constitute a dating relationship?

Whatever benefits her friendship with Tate entailed, they did not include dinner and movies. All Illinois student-athletes eat lunch together at Memorial Stadium. Do they all have a dating relationship? Michael Finke and Leron Black slept in the same room for an entire year. Do they have a dating relationship?

I’m excluding at least three crucial details from this report. The most obvious is the victim’s name. Why? BECAUSE SHE’S THE VICTIM. She doesn’t deserve this article — or any story relating to this saga — to be a top search hit for future Googlers. Let that honor remain with stories of academic awards & accomplishments in the classroom.

The second detail might shed let light on why N was naïve, or why the victim chose reticence. It will become public if she wants it public. But it doesn’t bear any relationship to Jaylon Tate’s innocence, except perhaps to further cement it.

The third detail, like the second, involves the personal lives of young people. Attendees of Illini games appear, by and large, to be persons who grew up watching Ozzie & Harriett (and not in re-runs). Many were children in the Golden Age of Radio. They’re living in the age of Tinder, but they probably don’t know it.  So I’m going to follow the example of Rule 403, perhaps the most famous (among lawyers) of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

I hope the victim is getting a lot of support and unconditional love from her family right now. She’s going through some difficult stuff.

THE BIGGEST QUESTION REMAINS

Returning to square one: Why was Jaylon Tate arrested? Did he have bruised knuckles?

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 is not as stringent as state laws that require separation of domestic partners, but the arrest was clearly made in that spirit. The goal, as stated in the article linked above, is to allow a cooling off period, so the man doesn’t batter his wife to death in retaliation for calling the cops to their house.

But Jaylon Tate doesn’t share a house with the victim. He was not present. He was at a party, and later at a bar, in both cases among plenty of witnesses. He was not a threat to the victim.

Tate is famously friendly and good-natured.  Along with Mike LaTulip, he’s the calming influence among his teammates and larger social group. In the Word Association game I played with the team two years ago, plenty of personality types were presented. Tate was chosen by his peers as Jokester and Playful. Not all the categories were so friendly.

But he’s a black man.

It’s fair to ask, even if you detest Jesse Jackson, would a white girl have gone to jail that night, assuming all other facts being equal?

C, on the other hand, was not arrested. Was C questioned? Did C have bruised knuckles? Why were the police so uninterested in C?

The University of Illinois is focused like a laser on this topic. They brought in the Vice President of the United States to address it. Is that heightened scrutiny to blame for Jaylon Tate’s arrest?

Last week, I emailed  state’s attorney Julia Rietz asking “Will there be any investigation of the arresting officers? Any disciplinary action?”

The 1986 law requires

(750 ILCS 60/301.1) (from Ch. 40, par. 2313-1.1)

Sec. 301.1. Law enforcement policies. Every law enforcement agency shall develop, adopt, and implement written policies regarding arrest procedures for domestic violence incidents consistent with the provisions of this Act. In developing these policies, each law enforcement agency is encouraged to consult with community organizations and other law enforcement agencies with expertise in recognizing and handling domestic violence incidents.

Rietz has been responsive to such inquires in the past, and I believe she is dedicated to just outcomes. But so far, no response.

Nevertheless, I promise you, there will be an investigation.

Categories
Illini Basketball

The Reason Mike Thomas Got Fired

Paul Kowalczyk acquitted himself better than Barbara Wilson in the November 9 press conference that announced Mike Thomas’s ouster.

He seemed nervous, he seemed humble, he expressed uncertainty. In other words, he was a real human.

Kowalczyk didn’t PR his way through his introductory press conference. He contemplated questions, was sometimes confused by them (and said so), and answered genuinely, to the best of his knowledge.

He stuck around for further interviews following his formal press conference. Asked about student-athlete health and welfare, his portfolio since August 8, he agreed that he was up to speed on all aspects of the topic. But he also admitted ignorance on some issues, and he said so in an intriguingly cloak & dagger fashion:

“There are some things I don’t know about, but that was Mike being smart about being close to the vest, trying to protect staff and others around him.”

Timothy Killeen refused press inquiries on the topic.

It’s a brilliant move by Killeen to lay all responsibility on Wilson, who says she doesn’t want the chancellor job on a permanent basis. Whatever the reaction, whatever the fallout, he’s absolved of blame simply because no one can say what position he took re: Mike Thomas. You can write “Killeen fired Mike Thomas” but you can’t link to an authoritative source. There’s no audio or video clip.

Here’s the thrust of the situation. Barbara Wilson performed a hatchet job deemed necessary by the administration. She’ll soon fade into history, and a new chancellor with no record of malfeasance/accomplishment will take her place.

Seventeen hours before the announcement of Mike Thomas’s firing, and  four days after the decision was made, I introduced myself to Timothy Killeen. He attended the UIUC-UIS exhibition in Springfield. He wore a Prairie Stars golf shirt. I recognized that display as a fun political maneuver, standing up for the little brother. I wanted to ask Killeen about basketball, nothing pressing. He was immediately evasive. Maybe he thought I knew something. He  certainly knew something.

WHY MIKE THOMAS GOT FIRED

Long-time donors were pissed because the Thomas administration un-grandfathered them from premium basketball seating. Think of the elderly couple that leaves a 15¢ tip at the diner. They think it’s pretty good money. When they were kids, it could buy a meal.

The level of donations from longtime Illini supporters = the stagnant results in the revenue sports. There’s a direct, causal relationship. It’s also the reason the Assembly Hall waited so long for an upgrade.  (There’s no link for that claim either. Ron Guenther was a closed door to media not named Loren Tate. )

The re-seating angered everyone who held season tickets in A & B Sections. For each year they’d been season ticket holders, each of these fans moved closer to the court (when another’s death or non-renewal opened a spot).  For a considerable number of people, this annual commitment began decades ago.

All that grandfathering disappeared with the new regime. It had to.

A conversation with Associate AD Rick Darnell, in the early stages of the renovation campaign, found him rolling his eyes after a day of taking angry phone calls, and trying to reason with disgruntled cheapskates. I don’t remember if he used the word “unsustainable,” but the message was distinct. You just can’t give away the best seats in the house for monies equaling the face-value of tickets. It doesn’t pay the bills.

I recall a conversation with one of those disgruntled donors. Former U of I trustee Dave Dorris, a Blagojevich appointee, attended something close to 400 straight Illini basketball games, wherever they occurred (including Hawai’i) before skipping all of last season.

At a Madison BBQ joint, prior to the 2014 game at Wisconsin, he said he’d been offered something along the lines of The Dorris Family Outdoor Smoking Area & Ceremonial Ashtray in exchange for a donation of $200,000.

Dorris is not a cheapskate. But the people who find themselves honored at halftime of basketball games, since Mike Thomas took over the DIA, were giving ten times that amount.

John Giuliani gave $5 million, and his prize is a private club within the SFC.

Last year, Bob Assmussen reported that Darnell and Thomas were discussing the sale of naming rights to the SFC court. It’s hard to imagine a price tag under $10 million for that amount of advertising. After all, “State Farm Center” is merely mentioned by TV presenters. The court is visible throughout each home game, even with the volume muted.

Obviously that major gift never developed. In an effort to appease all those longtime, disgruntled fans, the Thomas administration shifted gears, announcing Lou Henson Court four days before firing Tim Beckman.

Unseen on campus for a year, Dave Dorris showed up to honor Lou.

If Ron Guenther had stayed on at Illinois, he’d have had two choices.

  1. Irritate all those same longtime donors
  2. Not renovate the Assembly Hall

You can argue that renovation plans were already underway when Mike Thomas took over. But where was the money coming from? The football stadium still isn’t finished. Marquee sports programs pay their head (and perhaps more importantly, assistant) coaches double, or more, than Illinois.

By leaving Illinois, Guenther allowed important work to go forward, and didn’t have to be the bad guy.

If Mike Thomas hadn’t hired Tim Beckman, perhaps he’d have survived donor wrath.  His firing will remain a riddle, and a head-shaker, barring further revelations.

Now, a little bit more about that Franczek Radelet investigation and its final report.  First some medical stuff, then the part about Bill Cubit.

Page 37-38 of the report features an unnerving contrast in the protocol of team doctors.

Two team physicians reported that, if their “not safe to play” decision to hold a player out of football participation is based upon a player’s lack of confidence, they do not share that reason with coaches, saying only that the player is “out” or “not cleared” to play. In their view, it is a poor practice to share with coaches that their medical opinion, in part, is based on a player’s perspective because the coaches want players to return and could seek to change the player’s mind. These physicians believe that players should not be subjected to such pressure and, to encourage candid communication with sports medicine personnel, the players are better served by doctors not sharing such information with coaches.

Another team physician reported, however, that, in situations where his “not clear to play” decision was based on a student-athlete’s lack of confidence, he routinely shared that information with Coach Beckman. That team physician also reported that Coach Beckman would say he planned to speak to the player.

All players who were interviewed and asked about this issue strongly preferred that physicians not share such information with coaches. One player reported that when Beckman was told that the player expressed concern to a physician about whether he was fit to play, Coach Beckman told the player that the player would not get to decide whether to play.

All student-athletes sign a HIPAA waiver, which allows medical staff to discuss individuals’ medical condition (HIPAA provides a federally protected privacy right.)

The waiver is necessary. Otherwise, coaches, trainers and doctors simply wouldn’t be able to communicate about an individual’s condition.

But it’s alarming that one team physician didn’t foresee the potential for mischief & psychological abuse inherent in sharing the above information with a man as notoriously stupid, and demonstrably skeptical of medical sciences, as Tim Beckman.

Later in page 38, Bill Cubit is the subject of one particular health & welfare inquiry. Franczek Radelet concludes Cubit did nothing wrong.

For example, one former player reported that Bill Cubit (Offensive Coordinator and now Interim Head Coach) attempted to convince him to stop taking anti-anxiety medication to improve his football performance just prior to the 2014 season. Cubit explained that the player had complained about stomach issues and other impediments to his performance during Camp Rantoul, which the player believed stemmed from his medication. Because one of Cubit’s family members had suffered from similar issues, he spoke privately with the player about the sensitive subject to share that experience. Cubit informed the player that Cubit’s family member had decided to stop taking the medication and experienced significant improvement, but he told the player it was entirely up to him to decide how to proceed. The former player perceived this as coaching pressure. Another player who was a teammate with the reporting player knew about the conversation and believed that the reporting player misinterpreted Cubit’s statements, which he interpreted as a supportive gesture. There is no indication that Coach Cubit said anything else inappropriate to the reporting player or evidence that he ever made inappropriate comments or pressured other players about injury issues. The lack of concerns raised by other players lends further credence to Cubit’s account, which we find credible.

 

Categories
Illini basketball

October 2015

This post has little entertainment value.  It’s not funny, and there’s not much insight into basketball, except for the Mike Thorne video, below. There’s some maudlin ranting at the bottom, but it’s not based on data.

Instead, this post is a behind-the-scenes wrap-up of October’s three Illini basketball events, two “media days” and one scrimmage. If you’re trying to kill time in an airport, and your free wi-fi just expired, this is the column for you.

ILLINI ALL-IN SCRIMMAGE, OCTOBER 25, 2015

You’ve read the coverage and the commentary. You already know the most-talked-about story is Big Bo, fifth-year senior Mike Thorne. The most impressive aspect of his performance, in my mind, was his footwork. He moves like a circus acrobat. He has phenomenal balance.

Here’s a video collage of his performance.

The biggest storyline went under-the-radar: Malcolm Hill acquitted himself at point guard. He handled a zone press, and distributed effectively. He dribbled between his legs just the way point guards are expected to do.

Malcolm as point guard is the solution to all of John Groce’s problems, if he can pull it off. It’s also Malcolm’s best position for NBA purposes. If John Groce can transform Malcolm Hill into an NBA point guard, he’ll have a hell of a story to tell prospective recruits.

If there’s anything this staff should be able to produce, it’s a point guard. Think about it. John Groce = D-III point guard. Paris Parham = D-II point guard. Dustin Ford = D-I point guard (mid-major). Jamall Walker = D-I point guard. Special Assistant to the Director of Atletics Dee Brown = Bob Cousy Award-Winning D-I point guard.

The All-In crowd was as big as fire code allows, which is not big.

No one paid to get in, and the DIA provided lunch catered by Hickory River Smokehouse. I ate pulled pork while gossiping off-the-record with Kathi LaTulip. (The LaTulip family will continue to travel for games, even though Mike’s potential for PT is now 0%.)

After the three 8 minute scrimmages, and a speech from John Groce, everyone lined up to get an autographed poster of the team. This poster had the season schedule printed, conveniently, right at the bottom, which reminded everyone that plenty of tickets remain for all games. DIA needs to remind people about each and every one of those games, at any opportunity.

These autographed posters have serious collector value, because each one was signed by Jerel Pitts, a 6’3″ freshman walk-on SG from Maywood (Proviso West) and nobody knows whether he’ll actually play on the team.

BIG TEN MEDIA DAY, OCTOBER 15, 2015

The B1G event moved across the street, from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare to the Marriott. The Marriott space is far more compact, which made the event feel smaller.

Stephen Bardo & Howard Moore stood chatting at the corner of the two hallways which housed all meeting and work rooms, effectively blocking traffic throughout the event. They were occasionally joined in conversation by players, coaches and fellow members of the media. When two or more persons joined in, it was literally impossible to get through.

I was one of those persons for a while. Afterward, I wondered if I should say “hey guys, you’re too big to stand here blocking traffic.” I chose against it. Bardo and Moore are super friendly, and would certainly have accommodated.  But a lot of the people they were blocking are insufferable assholes. So it kinda worked out.

B1G SID Brett McWethy shook things up this year, staggering the time slots of conference coaches’ availability, thus allowing reporters more face time. That was nice. Whether it translates for fan purposes, media logistics stuff has improved since Brett took the job a couple of years ago.

I got the feeling that most media outlets were not interested in John Groce. Chicago TV stations got a few seconds of soundbites, but spent less than two minutes with him. Illini beat writers spent more time listening to Malcolm Hill, whose availability was simultaneous to Groce’s, and one table over. Mark Tupper and Marcus Jackson barely attended Groce at all. Steve Greenberg and Shannon Ryan checked in and out and in.

Loren Tate dropped in to Groce’s availability to question Groce about availability (which is awesome, and one of the reasons why Loren Tate is still the best).  Tate’s latest column contrasts Groce’s secrecy with the openness of the coaches who preceded him, all of whom were more successful.

Malcolm Hill is good with the media. Groce is pretty far down the list of B1G coaches when it comes to public persona. He’s a numbers guy. You’d want him as your accountant, not a raconteur. Given the choices in the room, it made sense that Groce would spawn less interest than others. But that’s not the whole story.

Overall, it was plain that media outlets consider Illinois basketball an afterthought among conference contenders. Chris Collins fielded a larger entourage than Groce.  I always thought Al Gore got a bad rap, but Chris Collins is definitely wooden.

Tom Crean’s pack of onlookers was triple the size of Groce’s.  Crean enters his eighth season of Coaches on the Hot Seat. His teams routinely under-perform, and this year’s is more overrated than any of them. But Crean got more coverage.

That’s where Illini basketball is, October 2015.

Recalling Groce’s reaction to the Sun-Times Cliffmas headline “LOL ILL,” I wonder what his candid response would be to that question today: What kind of place is Illinois basketball in right now? (Excuse the syntax. That was the phrasing.)

Still, at least Groce had some interest. Eddie Jordan sat at the Rutgers table with a single beat reporter. Pat Chambers, Tim Miles and Richard Pitino hung out in the hallway rather than hiding in an off-limits greenroom. They and their programs all need more attention from the media, so they don’t hide from it.

These are the coaches expected to vie for first place … in the bottom half of the B1G.

ILLINI MEDIA DAY – OCT 8, 2015
The team arrived 30-40 minutes late, for some reason. They sat for a team photo.

Mark Jones, the primary in-house photographer of Illini sports for the last few decades, wanted a smiling version and a serious version. A few of the players tried to wipe the smirks from their faces while a few others attempted to put smirks on fellow players’ faces (i.e. to crack them up). Mike LaTulip played both sides of that fence.

There’s no format for interviews during the hour or so that players are available. Reporters and photographers huddle around individual players. If you absolutely need a quote from a guy, joining the huddle is the best way to ensure you get one.

That’s how most media operate. They don’t listen to everything an interviewee has to say. They “get a quote.”  In my opinion, it’s ethically bankrupt. Searching for quotes begets leading questions. Respondents respond. You get the story you seek. That’s bad reporting.

I try to hear and capture everything a person says. I’ll edit stuff for humor or concision purposes, but I try to record everything that’s made available for the record.

Anyway, back to Illini Media Day. Here’s how it works: The News-Gazette and the local TV stations set up photography stations in opposite corners of the men’s gym. I set up shop in the southwest corner.

I didn’t try to get time with D.J. Williams or Kendrick Nunn. Neither has ever seemed enamored of camera time.

I would have liked to talk with Leron Black and Tracy Abrams, but they’d disappeared by the time I finished my first six interviews. In fact, the gym was empty. SID Derrick Burson made it clear that he’d bring guys out of the team room if I wanted them, but I don’t like to do that. I made the exception with Jalen Coleman-Lands because he’s new. It was necessary to talk with him.

Thus, my annual pre-season video featured only half the team.

If you’ve watched any of my pre-season movies, it should be pretty obvious which players I prefer to interview. It has little to do with their prominence as on-court performers. Malcolm Hill is great with the camera and a star of the team. Mike LaTulip won’t play this year, and he’s a top go-to guy for me. (FYI, Mike was planning to redshirt last year, even after Abrams Injury #1. He won’t give up his final year of eligibility for  anything less than 10 minutes per game, and that would require four more season-ending injuries.)  Maverick Morgan and Jaylon Tate should work for Lorne Michaels, whatever their talents on court.

Guys who play a lot don’t necessarily have the perspective of guys who watch a lot.

Perspective is important this year. It won’t be the last for John Groce. It might be the penultimate. He’s  faced too many tribulations during the preceding months. Whatever happens this year, it’s not “on him.” Not this year.

But at the same time, this is the year Groce must make a statement to the people not buying tickets, to the point guards not choosing Illinois, to the media not lining up to hear his voice.

Illini basketball has wandered in the wilderness for ten years.  No one even argues about it at dinner anymore.  It’s simply not discussed.

Categories
Illini Basketball

Illini Football is credible again

I probably wouldn’t have written anything about Tim Beckman’s dismissal, and certainly not something insulting, if Tim Beckman had gone quietly. Instead, he issued a statement  threatening “I will vigorously defend both my reputation and my legal rights.”

Thus, I feel obliged to examine Beckman’s reputation and legal rights.

Beckman’s reputation among football coaches, at the high school and college level, is not known to me, with one exception.  I got this in an email from a friend who worked in the MAC during Beckman’s tenure at Toledo:

When he was hired (by Illinois) and I was still at (a MAC competitor), the football crew there was telling me what an unsavory lad he was. They knew his staff well, and talked about how none of them wanted to go to the big bad B1G to work with him.

My friend now works in a different conference out east, but preferred that I use this quote without attribution.

In the larger community, observable in online fora and reputable media outlets, Beckman’s reputation is bad. It’s not a reputation he should seek to burnish. At best he’s viewed as mediocre.  From there it’s downhill.

Bumbling, incompetent, buffoonish.

One fan expressed his frustration in a classic work of graphic design:

When Beckman’s mentioned, it’s usually a gaffe that gets attention. A Boolean search for [“Tim Beckman” + embarrassing] renders immediate fodder. [“Tim Beckman” + respected] produces inconclusive results.

Did, or indeed could Beckman’s firing further tarnish his reputation? Beckman was fired for cause, which arguably bolsters his reputation. It makes him seem sinister, rather than incompetent.

What about his “legal rights?”

It’s clear that the University’s position, beginning with the initial announcement of Beckman’s dismissal, is that Beckman was in material breach of his employment contract. That document is 23 pages long, but the relevant passages are sections 2.3.b and 4.2

To recover monetary damages, Tim Beckman would have to prove that he never acted in a manner threatening to the health and well-being of student-athletes.  That seems unlikely, given the testimony already on record against him.

It’s hard to overstate the negatives. Listening to Beckman was discomforting, even painful. The only thing I ever wrote about the man was that he’s not as stupid as he seems.

After that, I just stopped writing about football. It was too depressing.

And now, that’s all changed. Bill Cubit: A Love Story is an ongoing narrative that began the day Cubit arrived in Champaign. He’s regarded as an offensive guru, and labels himself a football junkie. The media adore him because he’s honest, candid, forthcoming.

A couple of years ago I fell into the habit of recording everything Bill Cubit had to say, even though that meant ignoring the other coaches and players.  I called it “The Complete Cubit.” There are a few of them.

I’d like to add that I feel good about Tim Banks for the same reasons. He’s candid, too. But I couldn’t pull the camera away from Cubit. He’s just that good.

Last Friday Cubit told assembled media “believe it or not, I love you guys!” and “I love being around you guys.”

I do believe it, because he’s always treated us that way.

It’s such a relief to write a positive thing about Illini Football and its coach. Whether you like it, hate it, or ignore it; football is important to the local economy. Maybe Cubit won’t be named permanent successor, but for now, Illini Football is in competent hands.

I hope Tim Beckman will go quietly. Surely he can find a job in football, at some level. He’ll never attain a head coaching job as good as Illinois, and he shouldn’t.  There’s more than just X’s & O’s to being the state’s highest paid employee.

Categories
Illini basketball

Darius Paul’s arresting officers

As required by law, the University of Illinois responded to my FOIA inquiry of April 24 which requested documents & information about Darius Paul, Arsenio Carter and Kenichi Townsend.  A PDF of that report is attached at the bottom of this post.

You’ll recall from my initial Illini Report offering that Townsend was jailed just hours before Paul’s arrest, and that Carter (Townsend’s alleged accomplice in an August 2013 robbery) is about seven feet tall, and weighs about 245 lbs. Thus, my theory that on the night Paul was arrested for resisting arrest, the officers who spotted him thought he was Carter.

To give readers a better understanding of the locus in quo, I biked to the site of Darius Paul’s arrest, which is about a 5-iron from Darius Paul’s apartment.

For readers who misinterpreted anything about the South China restaurant, its parking lot, its adjacent viaduct, or the railroad tracks that run atop it; I hope this video clears things up.

University of Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy supplied a 37 page PDF file (embedded below) chronicling the investigation of Carter, and the investigation, arrest and interrogation of  Townsend. Carter’s arrest is not documented, explained Hardy, because Carter was not arrested by University of Illinois police.

Hardy identified Darius Paul’s arresting officers as Justin Age, James Scheel and Kaleb Schroeder. Officers submitting reports in the Carter/Townsend investigation and arrest were Eric Vogt and Ezzard Charles Hoskins, and Detective Cecil  “Gene” Moore.

If none of these names sounds like an Hispanic female to you, you’re right.

According to Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz “Michelle Ortiz saw him first, the other guys stopped him.” Thus, you can infer that not everyone involved in either arrest is named in these reports.

Hoskins is identified as the officer who recognized Arsenio Carter from the surveillance video which UIPD eventually posted on YouTube.  In a report submitted by Moore, Hoskins describes Carter as “willing to talk to police, but will fight if arrest is attempted.”

Remarkably, while returning from the South China parking lot this afternoon, I stumbled upon Officer Hoskins making an arrest. It occurred at the corner of Fourth & Green, in Campustown.  Hoskins and his partner were so patient and calm with the man they arrested, I actually didn’t realize I was witnessing an arrest.

From outward appearances, the police were helping the man, who was accompanied by four tweenaged children. Not until the arrestee yelled “don’t take pictures of my kids!”  did I realize an arrest was taking place. The arrestee also yelled “don’t tell him nuthin’!” Hoskins invited me to leave, so I did. I’d wanted to ask him about his pursuit of Arsenio Carter, but suddenly realized it was a bad time.

Were Darius Paul’s arresting officers aware that Arsenio Carter was willing to talk to police, but disliked being arrested?

U of I police chief Jeff Christensen’s “Crime Alert” to the public is the FOIA response’s only memo indicating a department-wide awareness of Carter.  But while officer Hoskins recognized Carter from experience prior to August 2013, the Christensen memo demonstrates a departmental directive for all officers to be on the lookout for a seven foot black man, known to roam the streets near Springfield Avenue around 3 a.m.

Kenichi Townsend didn’t squeal during his 2013 interrogation. When asked to identify  his companion in the surveillance video, he obfuscated before invoking his right to counsel. And although Townsend was in custody when police wrestled Darius Paul to the ground, Townsend is no longer listed on the Champaign County sheriff’s inmate search website.

If local law enforcement hopes to turn Townsend and Carter against one another, it currently lacks any leverage to do so. The 2013 robbery may go unpunished, despite officer Hoskins’ excellent police work.

There’s no legal relevance of the Carter and Townsend cases to the People v. Darius Paul.  Perhaps the police thought they were tackling Arsenio Carter, but that supposition doesn’t diminish Paul’s 4th Amendment rights. The question is whether walking in a parking lot within view of one’s own apartment is reasonably suspicious to give rise to a Terry stop. Details of Paul’s arrest and interrogation will not be available until the investigation is closed.

Now, here’s the PDF covering documents and reports relevant to Townsend and Carter. For some reason, the race of the  2013 victim was redacted from the report.

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