Big Ten

Illini announce Dee Brown as special assistant to AD Mike Thomas

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Illini announce Dee Brown as special assistant to AD Mike Thomas

Dee Brown is coming back to Champaign.

The former Illini guard who was the face of the program's best recent years, which included a trip to the Final Four in 2005, was announced Wednesday morning as a special assistant to Illinois athletics director Mike Thomas for this summer.

"Dee brings an enthusiasm for the Fighting Illini that is second to none," Thomas said in the announcement. "His experiences as a student-athlete on campus and in the community, his successful pro career and now his returning to campus to give back to the Fighting Illini speaks volumes about the positive time that he had here. I'm very pleased to welcome Dee and his family back into the Fighting Illini in a formal capacity this summer with the hope that once his playing days conclude that he will be back in a yet-to-be-defined role. Dee will make our student-athletes and all of our teams and programs better on many fronts. It's a great day for Illinois athletics."

[MORE BIG TEN: Is Buckeyes' D'Angelo Russell the best player in the NBA Draft?]

Brown's addition to the athletics department comes at a time when Thomas and several programs are under fire for accusations that coaches have bullied their players, forced them to play injured and threatened to take their scholarships away. The football and women's basketball programs are both being investigated/reviewed by outside parties.

According to the announcement, Brown will have several specific duties this summer, including representing the athletics department at events, building relationships outside of the university and helping with fundraising, though the announcement also specified he will have recruiting responsibilities in numerous sports.

Though this role begins July 1 and lasts through the summer, Thomas said Brown will be back with the department after his final season playing professional basketball.

[MORE BIG TEN: Five-star guard Josh Langford is Spartans' latest recruiting splash]

"Mike has a vision for Illinois athletics and a plan to realize it," Brown said in the announcement. "I'm truly honored to be a part of his vision and to begin working with him on several projects. My role is not just about me as a former basketball player, it's about giving back to the best school in the country that has given me so much as a student and as an athlete. I may have left Illinois physically when I graduated, but I never left it in my heart and now I have the chance to be back in orange and blue. This is a great day and what I hope will be the beginning of my career off the court."

Brown played 137 games in four seasons with the Illini and is the basketball program's third all-time leading scorer with 1,812 career points. He started more games and played more minutes than any other player in program history.

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.