Big Ten

'Confusing' and 'cumbersome' NCAA process works against Hawkeyes' Drew Ott

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Associated Press

'Confusing' and 'cumbersome' NCAA process works against Hawkeyes' Drew Ott

It seems you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks the NCAA made the right decision in denying Iowa defensive end Drew Ott a fifth season.

But even if you did, even that person would surely agree that the NCAA negatively impacted a student-athlete with a process the player and coach described as "confusing" and "cumbersome."

Ott played sparingly in six games last season while battling an elbow injury, and his season was ended after he suffered a torn ACL in an October game against Illinois. Since November, Ott had been trying to earn a medical hardship waiver and earn a fifth season of eligibility, with mostly radio silence coming from both the Big Ten and NCAA. That is until Wednesday, when the news finally came down that Ott wouldn't get a fifth year of eligibility.

But while Ott not being allowed to return for another season with the Hawkeyes is unfortunate for the player, the team and the fans, the main reason everyone is once again shaking their heads at the NCAA is the ridiculous amount of time the process took.

"Really disappointed for Drew," Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said during a Wednesday press conference. "Drew has just done such a great job, and it's a tough situation. Beyond that, I am disappointed with the decision and also disappointed at the process.

"it's been very cumbersome. The whole process has been cumbersome. It's not a cut-and-dry case, I guess, obviously, or else it would have been done months ago I would assume."

Ferentz said Wednesday that he was somewhat optimistic that the NCAA would work around its rule stating that a player who plays in 30 percent of his teams games cannot earn a medical redshirt. But not getting Ott back didn't seem to be his biggest concern. The same can be said for Ott, who said the NCAA's ultimate decision was understandable.

The sticking point was the process, which dragged on for months and prevented Ott from making preparations for an NFL career, considering he was hopeful he could return to Iowa. That means not hiring an agent, not participating at the NFL Draft Combine and not meeting with pro teams ahead of the draft.

"That's one of the downsides I think of the process taking so long," Ferentz said. "The last couple weeks, the guys have been out traveling a little bit, and for somebody with health issues, that might have been helpful. Nice for it to have been expedited a little bit, but that's not how it worked out."

"It's really confusing," Ott said. "There's just a lot of steps that they have to go through and things like that. So hopefully they can get that a little more streamlined for the next person."

Ott said the rehab from his ACL injury is going well, and Ferentz expressed plenty of confidence that Ott will succeed at the next level.

But once again the NCAA's commitment to its bureaucratic process has seemingly outweighed common sense, this time if not in the ruling itself then certainly in the process, which worked against the student-athlete.

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.