Bielema came away from his time in Madison with many achievements, including winning a Big Ten Championship, the requisite 10-win season and his first Rose Bowl victory.
Though it was a rough couple of years, the Illini (4-0, 1-0) and Bielema are reunited in Champaign and on Sunday – together – Illinois announced that the coach has been suspended from Monday’s game against Iowa (1-3, 0-1) for being the subject of a police investigation.
Coaches involved in sexual harassment investigations are exempt from reporting. Police were investigating Bielema for what is believed to be allegations of sexual assault, but the statute of limitations has run out, according to the Associated Press.
Bielema issued a statement on Sunday night saying he knows he let down Illinois, and that he was looking forward to addressing a laundry list of issues with university officials.
“I acknowledge I can be a disappointment in the right circumstances, and at the time of the allegations, I fell into the wrong one,” he said. “It is my intention to work hard at correcting those concerns. I appreciate my family, the university and most importantly my players for standing by me, which is critical at this critical time.”
Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said he has no plans to resign.
“I remain confident in the basketball program,” he said in a statement. “Coach Izzo gave me my start in the Midwest, I work closely with several members of the program and I support them all. We are very excited about the team’s upcoming games, but right now I have the utmost confidence in (athletic director) Josh Whitman and (athletic trainer) Nate Scott in overseeing the program and care of our student-athletes.
“I am certain that if Coach Bielema wants to come back, he will be asked to rejoin us and I will commit to letting him know I will support his return.”
Oscar Romero, the campus police chief, has declined to comment on the case, citing the Illinois Open Records Act.
It is unclear whether the deal between Bielema and Illinois will be rescinded. It might never be, if Illinois’s NCAA football eligibility suspension policy is in place.
A school spokesperson, quoted by the AP, said in part: “The NCAA rules say a coach may not have something else pending and make sure that that doesn’t serve as an impediment to his return.”
Athletic director Josh Whitman has announced the suspension of Jay Alvarez from Monday’s football game against Iowa for being the subject of a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Alvarez, who recently replaced former Illini head coach Tim Beckman.
The investigation involves former coach Tim Beckman, who coached Illinois from 2011-16. Beckman was fired on November 24, 2015 after being disciplined following a series of damaging off-field incidents.
Under Beckman, the school has had eight alleged incidents since 2009 where players were accused of hazing and two incidents of sexual misconduct.
The Athletic reports that Alvarez and former interim head coach Lou Tepper will serve as acting head coaches for the game against Iowa. Alvarez was named interim head coach on October 1. He announced his retirement from Illinois Football last December and is now the athletic director for the University of Arizona.
Bielema and Alvarez have been Illinois’ football coordinators since 1999.
“When you consider the circumstances surrounding the suspension, this is a difficult day for our football program,” athletic director Josh Whitman said. “But our focus, in my mind, is on our players, our staff and our University.”