Big Ten

Illini's Beckman responds to Cvijanovic tweets with second statement


Illini's Beckman responds to Cvijanovic tweets with second statement

For the second time in three days, Illinois head football coach Tim Beckman responded to Simon Cvijanovic's accusatory tweets.

While Beckman has yet to acknowledge any of the many specific allegations levied by the former offensive lineman, Tuesday he voiced his disappointment in the whole ordeal.

"I am disappointed that a former Fighting Illini player has chosen this path to air his concerns," Beckman said in Tuesday's statement. "I have been overwhelmed by the support shown by the student athletes and the parents who are currently in our program, along with many former players. It is truly humbling. We'll continue to treat the players in our program, current and former, like family as we continue to move forward."

[MORE BIG TEN: In radio interview, ex-Illini Cvijanovic expands on Beckman's culture]

This most recent statement follows another from Beckman on Sunday night, which outlined how Cvijanovic left the program and returned to complete his degree.

"Simon Cvijanovic was a valued member of the University of Illinois football team," Beckman said in Sunday's statement. "He chose to leave the team during the 2014 regular season and withdrew from the university before the end of the semester. Upon his return for the spring semester, we have continued to support him with medical care, an academic scholarship and academic advising. We cannot make any student accept our support. We wish him success in completing his degree, and we wish him the best of success in whatever he pursues after he graduates."

In Tuesday's statement, Beckman didn't say much, but his words did echo those of Illinois athletics director Mike Thomas, who Monday said during a teleconference that he's received nothing but positive responses toward Beckman, mostly from players' parents.

Cvijanovic's tweets, which began Sunday and continued Monday and Tuesday, accused Beckman of being an abusive bully who threatens to take players' scholarships away, forces players to play injured, vilifies injured players and fills their heads with propaganda. Cvijanovic said that Beckman, his staff and the program's medical staff lied to him about surgical procedures, tried to get him to play injured and told him to stop taking his medication. Cvijanovic has gained headlines for his advocating for student-athlete rights, though he's gone too far at times, at one point comparing Beckman to North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Cvijanovic told one reporter that he is considering legal action.

[MORE BIG TEN: In report, ex-Illini Cvijanovic details Beckman accusations]

Monday, Thomas wouldn't say whether a formal investigation would take place, though he did say he would "follow up" and indicated that he is getting assistance on the matter from the chancellor's office. He called Cvijanovic's accusations of Beckman a "personal attack" and said that the picture Cvijanovic is painting of the program is vastly different from what other players have told him.

While some of Cvijanovic's former teammates have vehemently disagreed his his assessment, calling him a quitter on social media, others seem to agree. A Tuesday report from the Daily Illini quoted former players from Beckman's time at both Illinois and Toledo saying similar things to what Cvijanovic said.

In that report, a couple former Toledo players who played under Beckman also said that the coach threatens to take players' scholarships away.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


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


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.