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Barbara Wilson, who on Friday was named the next University of Iowa president, has some experience dealing with difficult athletic issues.
Wilson was the interim chancellor at the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus in 2015-16 after Phyllis Wise abruptly resigned as chancellor over the use of private email to conduct public business.
Head football coach Tim Beckman was fired in August 2015 after a university-commissioned independent investigation found extensive mistreatment of players by Beckman, just a few weeks after Wilson became interim chancellor. Beckman allegedly encouraged hurt players to avoid medical treatment in order to keep playing.
Wilson fired athletics director Mike Thomas in November 2015. It was a no-cause dismissal, and Thomas was paid $2.5 million for the rest of his contract.
“Mike Thomas has done a good job of leading through recent challenges,” Wilson said at the time, “but we have determined it is best to exercise the ’without cause’ separation clause in his contract at this time.”
Now, there is obviously a lot more to Wilson’s career in academia than this, but acting swiftly and sternly to a scandal in athletics would seem to say something about her.
Wilson has been at Illinois since 2000. After her stint as interim chancellor, she was promoted to executive vice president of the entire University of Illinois system.
She stars her job at Iowa on July 15.
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