Big Ten

In ESPN report, Michigan lineman says Jim Harbaugh pressured him to retire

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In ESPN report, Michigan lineman says Jim Harbaugh pressured him to retire

A Michigan defensive lineman said that new head coach Jim Harbaugh pressured him to end his college football career early.

Ondre Pipkins, who was set to start his senior season with the Wolverines, told ESPN.com's Joe Schad in a story published Friday that Harbaugh and members of the program's medical staff have repeatedly asked him to sign a form that would place him on medical scholarship, allowing him to finish his education but no longer allowing him to play football. This after a knee injury that Pipkins said he is fully recovered from.

The move would have freed up a scholarship for another player, and Pipkins said he believes that was Harbaugh's intent.

Pipkins would not sign the form and is instead planning to transfer from Michigan.

"I feel bad I wasn't able to complete this journey with my classmates," Pipkins told ESPN. "I feel I am healthy and without pain. I believe Michigan wanted to free up the scholarship. I felt I was practicing well and could compete at a high level at the nose tackle and tackle positions."

[MORE BIG TEN: Add safety Patrick Nelson to list of Illini with torn ACLs]

Doctors initially told Pipkins that he would be able to keep playing, but that changed, as the recommendation became that he rest for six months. Pipkins did practice this spring with the Wolverines, though he suffered a concussion. After being cleared to resume activity, he said he was constantly pressured, pulled from a workout and told he could no longer work out with teammates.

Harbaugh released this statement to ESPN:

"After consulting with our medical team, we do not think it is in Ondre's best interest as it relates to his health and welfare to play football, short or long term. He remains on full scholarship and counts toward the 85 scholarship limit in pursuit of graduation from the University of Michigan."

[MORE BIG TEN: Terrelle Pryor OK'd to scrimmage with Browns at Ohio Stadium]

But Pipkins believes he's healthy enough to play and that Harbaugh hasn't been treating him fairly.

"I feel I'm healthy and ready to play," Pipkins said. "I don't want to sign the form. I wanted to play for my seniors and for the team. coach Harbaugh said, 'I recommend you take the medical.'

"College football is a business. New coaches have to win games. They want to go with guys they think can win. If I'm a victim of making room, so be it. But if there is no concrete reason to disqualify a player. He should have the right to keep playing."

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.