Big Ten

Is the Big Ten done fighting the freshman ineligibility fight?

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Is the Big Ten done fighting the freshman ineligibility fight?

The Big Ten always stressed that freshman ineligibility was never a formal proposal. Now it's looking like it might never be one.

Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters Wednesday that the conference's idea of a "Year of Readiness," which was a huge talking point back in February, was simply meant to cause discussion.

"That is not a proposal," Delany said Wednesday, his quotes published by ESPN.com. "It may never be a proposal. But is a great pivot point to have this discussion."

The idea, which involved a mandatory sit-out year for freshmen student-athletes in football and men's basketball, was met with mostly negative reaction by fans and observers when it was revealed the conference was talking about it earlier this year.

[MORE BIG TEN: Mike Thomas addresses firestorm surrounding Illini athletics]

The goals were admirable ones: to better acclimate student-athletes to the academic rigors of college without putting as much athletic pressure on them right out of the box. As Delany mentioned again Wednesday, the brass of college athletics is looking for ways to put a bigger focus on the "student" part of student-athlete. Football and men's basketball were the main focuses of the thought as they are the sports with the lowest graduation rates in the NCAA.

But the idea had and continues to have plenty of critics. Arguments against freshman ineligibility were many, and some argued that without the structure of athletics, the year away from the court/field could have the opposite effect and provide a better opportunity to slack off academically. Others wondered why it would simply apply to football and men's basketball and not all collegiate sports.

"There are those who are supportive of it," Delany said. "There are those who oppose it, but that's not the issue. The issue is whether or not we can have a broad set of national discussions."

[MORE BIG TEN: Huskers reportedly paying $1.65 million for 2017 game vs. Arkansas State]

The NCAA had a mandatory sit-out year up until the 1970s. Today, the idea of imposing such a thing strikes many as radical, especially as freshmen continue to play some of the largest roles in men's basketball, where "one and done" has become a part of the sports lexicon.

Just as the conference outlined back in February, this is not something that is close to becoming a reality, and Delany seemed to be pleased that this remains a talking point, even if the idea might not be catching on with many fans and observers.

"The most important thing is there be a discussion about how prepared the student is," Delany said, "how the school accommodates that preparedness and how it all works.

"There's no simple answer. There's no one answer. This is not an answer standing by itself. And it's not ready. It's not mature enough to be a proposal. If it were, it would be a proposal. Instead, it's an effort to encourage a discussion about the importance of education. And it's happening, so for that, we're happy."

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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USA TODAY

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.