Big Ten

Illini hire search firm to help find new athletics director

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Illini hire search firm to help find new athletics director

Illinois' search for a new athletics director reached a new milestone Wednesday, when the school announced the hiring of search firm Korn Ferry to assist in finding the school's next AD.

“My hope all along was to identify a firm that had the experience and network to add value to our efforts,” chancellor Barbara Wilson said in the announcement. “Korn Ferry will play a crucial role in conducting an effective, comprehensive and confidential process of interacting with top-quality candidates for this vital and sought-after campus role.”

According to the announcement, Korn Ferry has been involved in searches for athletics directors and head football coaches at Michigan, Oregon, Texas and Virginia.

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The search process has reportedly been disjointed, disorganized and downright unusual. According to one report, candidates have been contacted via their university email addresses, vetting has been done in atypical fashion and interest has been impacted due to Wilson's interim status.

The hiring of a search firm seems to be something that should have been decided on a long time ago. Mike Thomas was fired as the school's athletics director back on Nov. 9, with Paul Kowalczyk named the interim athletics director. The school then waited almost a full month before announcing that the search for a replacement was underway. That was almost two weeks ago.

Just now, the school has opted to hire a search firm.

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.