Big Ten

Report: Illini hire group of former Big 12 commish Dan Beebe


Report: Illini hire group of former Big 12 commish Dan Beebe

The Illinois athletics department has hired a familiar face to help with the continued fallout from this offseason's allegations toward several of the university's athletics programs.

According to a report from the Champaign News-Gazette, the school is paying $50,000 to the firm of former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to aid in "risk assessment" surrounding the department's treatment of student-athletes.

Beebe was the commissioner of the Big 12 from 2007 to 2011, a tenure unfortunately highlighted by the departures of multiple programs from that conference during the couple of maddening years of conference realignment. Colorado and Nebraska left the Big 12 in 2011, and the conference was talked about as potentially dissolving as Missouri and Texas A&M eyed a move to the SEC. Beebe was removed from his position in September 2011, a couple months after Texas A&m announced it'd be leaving for the SEC and shortly before Missouri announced the same.

But now Beebe is running a group that has advised the NCAA, multiple college leagues, SEC schools and an NFL team.

[MORE BIG TEN: As Illini running back depth dwindles, is V'Angelo Bentley an option?]

The News-Gazette reported that Illinois is contracted to pay Beebe's group $50,000 to help review university policies and procedure and to train administrators, coaches and student-athletes.

This summer has seen several incidents of student-athletes alleging mistreatment by coaches and athletics department staff. Former offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic sent out a series of tweets in May alleging that head football coach Tim Beckman is an abusive bully who demonizes injured players, forces injured players to play and threatens to take players' scholarships away.

There were also allegations of racial hostility in the women's basketball program, with coaches having separate practices for black and white players and treating the players differently. An independent review of the university's investigation, though, found no support for those claims. Still, there is an ongoing lawsuit brought by former players, and assistant coach Mike Divilbiss, the subject of many of the allegations, left the program this offseason.

Additionally, a former soccer player sued alleging mistreatment by the medical staff.

This is the latest high cost for the department and school in the wake of those allegations, as the university also paid/is paying two separate Chicago law firms steep hourly fees, one for the independent review of the school's investigation into the women's basketball program and one for the ongoing independent investigation into the football program.

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.