Big Ten

Ex-Flyin' Illini Stephen Bardo voices frustration on Twitter

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Ex-Flyin' Illini Stephen Bardo voices frustration on Twitter

One prominent Illinois athletics alumnus isn't too happy with his alma mater right now.

Stephen Bardo, a member of the 1989 Flyin' Illini men's basketball team and a current Big Ten Network basketball analyst, took to Twitter on Saturday morning to voice his frustration with the current state of the Illinois athletics department, which is currently embroiled in a pair of investigations into allegations of abuse and mistreatment toward the coaching staffs of the football and women's basketball program. Though Bardo's comments seemed to be directed toward the state of the program in general rather than specifically about those two investigations.

[MORE BIG TEN: Report: Investigations costing Illini up to $425 an hour]

Bardo's main point of frustration was the lack of diversity in the athletics department, including the most-prominent head-coaching positions, and he linked that fact to the general opinion among many that the school's highest-profile programs have difficulty landing top high school talent from Chicago.

Though Bardo's main point was a lack of minority voices in the athletics department, he tied in some of the allegations made by former women's basketball players that were racially themed, such as the suggestion of separate practices for African-American players, saying the two do relate.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini AD announces steps to better serve student-athletes]

While he did mention the men's basketball program in his tweets, Bardo made it clear he was not railing against current head basketball coach John Groce, who is white, or calling for a new head basketball coach but that his "disappointment is with the leadership of the university and athletics department" and that he wants to see more diversity at the "decision-making level."

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

Bardo took an interesting angle, and it's a topic that hasn't come up during the firestorm surrounding the athletics department. Bardo also has a bigger megaphone than most, given his prominence as a BTN analyst, and it will be interesting to see if his words are given more weight than those of other former student-athletes on Twitter.

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.