Chicago Lawyers’ “Extraordinary Case” Marks Watershed Moment for College Athletes


Earlier this week, former University of Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic and the University of Illinois announced an agreement to settle claims arising from allegations of player mistreatment that was the subject of a University investigation in 2015.

This morning, Cvijanovic and his attorneys, Bob Geimer and Dan Kotin of Chicago law firm Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, spoke to the press at their downtown offices.

“This is an extraordinary case,” Kotin said, “not just from a legal perspective, but from a social perspective.”

Cvijanovic, whose issues with the University’s coaching staff and athletic administration first came to light in a now-famous 2015 “tweet storm,” saw his complaints result in a months-long investigation into player safety practices, leading to the firing of former Illini head coach Tim Beckman and the eventual dismissal of athletic director Mike Thomas.

At the same time, Geimer and Kotin reached out to the University on Cvijanovic’s behalf to seek further remedy to address the current and future medical expenses connected to shoulder and knee injuries that coaches instructed Cvijanovic to “play through.”

“We didn’t know what kind of response we’d get from the University,” said Kotin.

Negotiations, led by Geimer, remained “positive and productive,” both attorneys said Thursday, and eventually yielded a $250,000 settlement agreement.

“The money is significant, of course,” Geimer remarked, “… but for Simon, it was equally important that his voice was heard and changes were made. He looks forward to being a leading figure in player safety and an advocate for the fair treatment of players in college athletics.”

Cvijanovic told reporters that he’d felt “caught in a broken system,” in which issues of player safety were not prioritized and his complaints were not heard.

“I needed social media to get my voice heard,” Cvijanovic said, “and I needed lawyers to manage those conversations with the University.”

Now, Cvijanovic and his lawyers noted, the public seems more aware of some of the health risks and other challenges faced by student athletes.

What happened to Cvijanovic at the University of Illinois, he said, “could have happened at any school and could happen anywhere still today,” but he hopes this his coming forward and the positive resolution of his case will inspire others to speak out about player safety.

“This is so much bigger than just me,” he said Thursday, “My dream is to start a non-profit and be an advocate for players who don’t have a voice or don’t feel they can speak up for themselves.”

“We so admire the courage and commitment that Simon has shown through this whole process,” Kotin said Thursday, “and Bob and I are proud to have been able to represent him.”

  • Badges and associations
  • Badges and associations

Call Us312-605-8800fax312-605-8808

161 North Clark Street, Suite 3050
Chicago, IL 60601

Back to Top