Big Ten

Drew Brees donates $1 million to Purdue football program


Drew Brees donates $1 million to Purdue football program

Drew Brees is again giving back to his alma mater in a big way.

Purdue announced Friday that the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and his wife, Brittany, also a Purdue alum, have donated $1 million to help enhance the Boilermakers football program.

"We care so much about Purdue University," Brees said in the announcement. "Purdue has meant so much to me, and it has provided so many things. From the education I received and playing for coach Joe Tiller, to winning a Big Ten championship and going to the Rose Bowl, to the relationships I was able to form with many of my teammates and meeting my beautiful wife ... we are so blessed and so thankful. We just want to show how much we believe in our university, in our football program, in our leadership and in the direction we are heading."

[MORE BIG TEN: Purdue grants scholarship release to quarterback Danny Etling]

Brees played at Purdue for four seasons from 1997 to 2000, racking up 11,792 passing yards and 90 touchdowns, both of which still stand as career records in the Big Ten. He was twice named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and won the Maxwell Award during his senior season, also finishing third in voting for the Heisman Trophy and leading the Boilermakers to the 2001 Rose Bowl, one of just two Rose Bowl appearances in program history.

He has had an exceptional career as one of the NFL's finest quarterbacks, playing with both the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints, with whom he won a championship in Super Bowl XLIV.

"I am so proud to be a Boilermaker," Drew Brees said. "Every chance I get, I try to tell somebody about Purdue and my experience, whether it's athletic, academic or just being a student. It was such a tremendous part of my life. I always want to share that experience with others and hope they will have that same sense of love and pride for the university that I do."

[MORE BIG TEN: Hoosiers dismiss starting safety Antonio Allen after drug arrest]

Brees' donation is not his first to Purdue. In 2007, Drew and Brittany Brees donated $2 million to enhance the now-named Drew and Brittany Brees Student-Athlete Academic Center.

This latest donation, the school announced, is part of Purdue's master plan for the football program, which entails boosting Purdue's roster development, recruiting, fan engagement, university support and facilities in hopes of building a championship-caliber program.

"Drew certainly meant a lot to us during his four years on campus, and he has continued to mean a lot since he left," Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said in the announcement. "This gift by Drew and Brittany not only demonstrates the generosity that has become a staple in their lives, but also affirms that someone who has 'been there, done that' both at Purdue and in the National Football League believes in what we are doing and wants to be part of it. On behalf of everyone involved with Purdue athletics, I say thank you for everything they have done and continue to do to support our mission."

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


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


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.