When Illinois football coach Tim Beckman went recruiting this spring, so did his son, Alex. The eighth grader had a big decision on his hands. Before he started his high school football career, Alex spent time touring the in Champaign-Urbana, and he chose to attend Urbana High School. Not coincidentally, Urbana built a new stadium last season that featured an artificial turf field. So the Beckman family decided to build in Stone Creek, the Urbana subdivision a few miles down Windsor Road from campus, thanks to Alex's decision. "We've done that with every child,'' Tim said. Beckman is a family guy, whether it's his wife and kids or his football team. He understood his career forces sacrifices from his family, so he tried to give back, such as letting the kids pick their high school. When Beckman was an assistant coach at Ohio State, oldest son Tyler chose Dublin in suburban Columbus, so he could play quarterback at Coffman High School. Daughter, Lindsay, picked Anthony Wayne school district in suburban Toledo, even though Tim had a 20 minute drive to his office. Beckman's wife, Kim, isn't on salary, but she's a key member of the coaching staff, Tim said. She needs a home that will accommodate the football season, when she hosts the Illini during a string of lasagna dinners each week. By position groups, the players head to the Beckman home for the main entree, salad and homemade cookies. "The same menu,'' Tim said. "I have to eat it for 13 weeks.'' And then there's the birthday cakes. "She's not just a wife,'' Tim said. "She's a mother for 105 (football players). She provides birthday cakes for the guys because they're not with their families. This is a family. It's not just a football program. It's a family.'' With family such a key element in Tim's life, he was a natural while talking to the student-athletes at Franklin Middle School during one stop of the Illini Caravan Monday, and he made friends at St. John's Children's Hospital. Beckman gave a signed photo to Dylan Turasky, a 5-year-old rallying from pneumonia who bumped knuckles with the coach. The caravan drew a crowd of 350 at Erin's Pavilion, likely the largest crowd on the nine-city statewide tour this spring. Basketball coach John Groce couldn't attend the Springfield event while attending the Ohio basketball banquet. WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Part of the rebuilding in coach Matt Bollant's program is overhauling the culture, from practice habits to skill development and academic progress. It's a bigger job than he expected, because there will likely be academic casualties and transfers. "If we have everybody eligible and everybody playing, we cant turn things pretty quickly,'' he said. "If not, then it's a two-, three-, four-year process.'' Juniors Amber Moore and Kersten Magrum are the key building blocks, because they've shown they will do the extra work necessary to improve, Bollant said. He's still pushing star Karisma Penn. "She wants to play professionally,'' Bollant said. "We told her, 'When you're done, we talk to the WNBA coaches. They're going to ask about your work ethic and attitude. We're going to have to tell them. What are we going to be able to say about you?' '' NOTEWORTHY: Tim Knox joined the Illinois football program as director of football operations after serving 15 seasons at Western Michigan, including 11 in the same capacity. . . Illinois sold out the horseshoe for the six straight season, the school announced Monday. Sideline are on sale. Single-game tickets will go on sale July 17. . . John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSupinie.