Big Ten

Players support Beckman with #ProudIllini as allegations continue

tim-beckman-illini-0511.png

Players support Beckman with #ProudIllini as allegations continue

As Illinois football coach Tim Beckman remains the target of numerous allegations that he mistreats his players, current and former Illini took to Twitter on Thursday to support Beckman with #ProudIllini.

Many current and former Illini players tweeted using the hashtag as a show of support for a coach they believe is being wrongly attacked.

The accusations began Sunday when former offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic sent out dozens of tweets, and hundreds more since, alleging that Beckman is an abusive bully who threatens to take players' scholarships away, forces players to play injured, vilifies injured players and fills players' heads with propaganda.

Cvijanovic's tweets and comments to media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and ESPN Radio in Champaign forced Illinois athletics director Mike Thomas to hold a teleconference Monday, a showing deemed so weak by student-athlete rights advocate Ramogi Huma that he demanded the university conduct an independent investigation into Cvijanovic's claims. And that's exactly what the university announced it would do Wednesday.

But Cvijanovic is no longer the only player making such claims. Former players from both Illinois and Toledo, where Beckman coached prior to coming to Champaign, told the Daily Illini similar anecdotes of Beckman's mistreatment of players and scholarship threats.

Then Wednesday, former Illini Darius Millines, seemingly inspired by Cvijanovic, took to Twitter to talk about his experience playing for Beckman, in which the head coach made it difficult for Millines to go home and see his father, who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Though they continue to speak out against Beckman, both Cvijanovic and Millines continue to profess their love for their school and teammates, also using the #ProudIllini hashtag in tweets.

Beckman has yet to address the media over the allegations, simply releasing a pair of statements expressing his disappointment in the situation. He did, though, briefly make one comment to the Tribune, saying "Both programs have been very, very successful with what they’ve done.”

Though he often stresses that success is measured in more than just wins and losses, Beckman has a 12-25 record in three seasons at Illinois.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
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

anderson.jpg
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.