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Illinois chancellor announces process to pick new Illini mascot

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Illinois chancellor announces process to pick new Illini mascot

If you were bothered by the lack of a costumed character roaming the sidelines at Illinois football and basketball games, your troubles are over.

University of Illinois chancellor Barbara J. Wilson announced during a campus meeting Monday that the school is beginning the process of choosing a new mascot, according to a report from the Champaign News-Gazette's Julie Wurth.

Mind you, this isn't signalling the return of Chief Illiniwek, who wasn't a masoct anyway, the university classifying the Chief as a symbol. No, this is something new, and the result would figure to be more in the vein of the cartoonish figures celebrating touchdowns and crowd surfing at football and basketball games.

From Wurth's report:

Wilson endorsed the recommendation from an Illinois Student Senate ad hoc committee that recently urged the campus to move forward with a mascot. She met with the group on Friday.

She plans to form a committee of 10 to 12 people that will draw up a process and a timeline. It will include representatives from all the stakeholders involved — students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

Wilson, who had already signaled her support for the student effort, said last week that any new mascot would embody the values and traditions of the campus.

Chief Illiniwek was retired in 2007 amid concerns that the costumed performer was offensive to Native Americans. The Illinois marching band still plays the music the Chief used to perform to, and people wearing the costume have appeared in the stands during games while the music played. All that, of course, is unofficial, and while many Illini alumi and fans continue to hope the university will bring back Chief Illiniwek, they will have to settle for whatever this new mascot ends up being.

Certainly, Wilson seems aware that this is a sensitive subject for many.

Illinois is currently one of just three Big Ten schools without a costumed mascot, Indiana and Michigan being the others. Iowa boasts Herky Hawkeye, Maryland has Testudo, Michigan State has Sparty, Minnesota has Goldy Gopher, Nebraska has Herbie Husker (and Li'l Red), Northwestern has Willie Wildcat, Ohio State has Brutus Buckeye, Penn State has the Nittany Lion, Purdue has Purdue Pete, Rutgers has the Scarlet Knight and Wisconsin has Bucky Badger.

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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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.