Big Ten

Report: Illini to pay MTSU $950,000 to visit to Champaign


Report: Illini to pay MTSU $950,000 to visit to Champaign

Illinois hosts Middle Tennessee State in the final game before the start of Big Ten play on Oct. 26.

It's expected to be a win for the Illini, but whatever happens, it's definitely going to cost them.

According to a report from the Daily News Journal, Illinois is paying Middle Tennessee State $950,000 to come to Champaign and play that game.

If it seems like a lot of money, it's because it is. But it's certainly not a rarity. Nearly every big school does this annually, paying a large sum of money to a small school to travel across the country for what is usually an easy win for the home team. In fact, the trip to Champaign won't be Middle Tennessee State's only payday this season. The school's athletics department is getting even more dough for a trip to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama. That game will cost the Crimson Tide a whopping $1.5 million.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini's V'Angelo Bentley, six more B1G'ers on Hornung Award watch list]

Now, where it gets tricky is if the home team ends up struggling against the team its paying a large amount of money to play. That also happens every year.

The Illini have had a few close calls in non-conference games against small schools over the past couple seasons. Last season, it took fourth-quarter comebacks to beat Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State. The year before, Illinois only defeated Southern Illinois by eight.

But, this wouldn't keep happening if not for the enormous benefit the payment provides for the smaller schools. Here's Middle Tennessee State athletics director Chris Massaro in the Daily News Journal piece:

"It will be spread across our entire budget," Massaro told the paper. "It helps all of our sports. With rising higher (education) costs and tuition increases we've had the last three or four years, this helps buffer some of that. With some of the autonomy legislation, it's driven up some of our costs. Health-care issues have driven up our cost."

[MORE BIG TEN: PETA says Michigan players who owned wallaby 'dropped the ball']

So though it costs the big schools a pretty penny, it's a big deal for the small schools.

The big schools better hope, though, that they don't end up with losses both in the bank account and on the scoreboard.

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.