Big Ten

Report: Illini looking at two-year deal for Bill Cubit


Report: Illini looking at two-year deal for Bill Cubit

Bill Cubit's future at Illinois is still yet to be determined, but one Wednesday-night report indicated the school could be leaning toward keeping Cubit on a bit more permanently.

The Tribune's Shannon Ryan reported that Illinois is "exploring" a two-year contract for Cubit, which would elevate him from his current interim status.

Cubit took over as the team's interim head coach after Tim Beckman was fired a week before the start of the season. Cubit has led the team to a 5-6 record with one regular-season game left to play Saturday against a Northwestern. A win in that game would send the Illini to a bowl game for the second straight season.

Interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk said in a radio interview Wednesday that a decision would be made on Cubit's future no later than Sunday.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini interim AD: Decision on Bill Cubit will come by Sunday]

According to Ryan, however, a decision to keep Cubit on would have more to do with an unorganized search for a new athletics director and a short amount of time in which to make that hire.

From Ryan's report:

According to sources, Cubit's future hinges less on the outcome of Saturday's game and more on the program's pressing time frame to make significant hires.

The search for a permanent coach and athletic director is unorganized, the sources said, with program donors taking it upon themselves to attempt to contact candidates with Illinois ties. Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson is also taking the lead on vetting candidates, a source said.

Mike Thomas was removed as the team's athletics director on Nov. 9 when more ugly details of Beckman's behavior were made public with the release of a full investigative report on the program.

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

Cubit has brought stability, passion and positivity to a program that could have been torn apart by the firing of Beckman, who was found to have behaved horribly as the team's head coach with a disregard for the safety and well-being of student-athletes. Cubit has displayed emotion when talking about his players — who have played with noticeable enthusiasm this season — and been vocal and active in trying to rally the community around the team.

Cubit has prior head-coaching experience from his days at Western Michigan and has voiced a desire to remain Illinois' permanent head coach, at one point saying it will be difficult for Illinois administrators to find someone who loves the school as much as he does.

However, for all the great work Cubit has done under challenging circumstances, the team has not played particularly well this season, failing in most every test against quality competition and displaying complete ineffectiveness on offense, Cubit's area of expertise.

If the Illini lose to Northwestern on Saturday, it will be the third time in the past four seasons they've missed a bowl game.

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.