Big Ten

Illini, Nike extend partnership to keep athletes in swoosh till 2026

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Illini, Nike extend partnership to keep athletes in swoosh till 2026

Illinois extended its partnership with Nike, the school announced Tuesday.

Nike has been the Fighting Illini's footwear, apparel and equipment provider for the past 20 years, and that partnership will now reach forward another decade, keeping the swoosh on student-athletes in Champaign through the 2025-26 school year.

"We are extremely pleased to extend our outstanding relationship and partnership with Nike," Illinois interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk said in the announcement. "Their commitment to us reinforces the fact that we have one of the strongest brands in college sports as this agreement has a value among the top 20 in all of collegiate athletics. We will continue to work together to equip our student-athletes with the most exciting, cutting-edge apparel and equipment, while providing our fans a myriad of ways to display their Fighting Illini pride.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Fighting Illini gear right here]

"Nike is the industry leader, and our coaches and student-athletes are overwhelmingly supportive of continuing this relationship. From a competitive and recruiting standpoint, our relationship with Nike is vital as we compete for championships."

Nike most recently teamed with Illinois to a couple years ago completely redesign the athletics department's brand, including new uniforms across all sports.

This new extension goes into effect in July.

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.