CHICAGO (WCIA) — Former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic is calling other college athletes to action, hoping they don’t have to repeat what he went through. Cvijanvoic received a $250,000 settlement payment this week from the University of Illinois for all current and future medical expenses he sustained while playing for the Illini. The Ohio native spoke to reporters, sitting next to his lawyers, in a downtown Chicago office building Thursday morning.
“It’s been hard knowing that there’s lots of people out there struggling but that’s also kind of fueled the fire for me to get this thing wrapped up and get back to helping people,” Cvijanovic said.
Cvijanvoic said his case is just like numerous others across the country. He called the end result, ‘a historic moment in sports culture.’
“Right now I’m very happy that there’s a little bit of cushion and I’m not panicking on how those things are going to be taken care of,” Cvijanovic said when asked about his payment.
Cvijanvoic unleashed a flurry of tweets in May 2015 accusing former Illini football coach Tim Beckman of mistreatment and forcing him to play while injured, among other offenses. Those claims were confirmed by an external investigation that ultimately led to Beckman’s firing. Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas was also dismissed, although not for cause.
“To me the principal is in the admittance,” Cvijanovic said. “They’ve said very plainly that they were wrong and wrong doings were done and their system allowed it. So that’s the biggest takeaway from all this.”
Cvijanovic said he’s had two shoulder surgeries and a knee operation since graduation in 2015 and he projects more in the future. He’s slimmed down from 320 pounds to 250 and has focused his time on using his platform and voice to help others. He wants to start a non-profit to advocate player safety across the country. The former offensive lineman says he hasn’t talked to Beckman since the incident. He’s also had no contact with anyone in the current administration at Illinois but hopes he can go back to campus soon.
“I think that day is coming and I think as these things start to be digested by people and they start to realize what really happened and what’s happening still, I think that I’ll be welcomed back with open arms.”