Big Ten

Some movement on Drew Ott's situation, but Hawkeye's future in NCAA's hands

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Some movement on Drew Ott's situation, but Hawkeye's future in NCAA's hands

Will Drew Ott play next season? It's up to the NCAA.

There was finally some movement in Ott's situation, with Iowa announcing Monday: “In regards to the University of Iowa appeal on behalf of Drew Ott, the Big Ten Conference has granted the UI’s request to forward the petition to the NCAA, where a decision will be rendered on his request for an additional year through the Medical Hardship Waiver process.”

What that means is that the Big Ten has allowed Iowa's petition for a waiver to move to the NCAA, which will make the decision on whether or not Ott can suit up for a fifth season with the Hawkeyes in 2016 after he missed much but not all of the 2015 campaign with a torn ACL.

The medical-hardship rule, as outlined by the NCAA, requires that a player play in fewer than 30 percent of his team's games and does not play after the midway point of the season in which the injury occurs. That wasn't the case with Ott, who appeared in six games for the Hawkeyes last season.

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As ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman wrote in conjunction with Ott's appearance last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, Ott is caught in the middle of the NCAA and his future. Ott wants to return to Iowa but can't do so until the NCAA tells him he can. If the NCAA doesn't make a quick decision, Ott will have potentially missed out on chances to impress potential NFL employers, as he's not allowed to sign with an agent, an act that would end his NCAA eligibility. But he doesn't know if he has any NCAA eligibility left. Hence the sticky situation.

Ott has been one of Iowa's best defenders in recent seasons. As a junior in 2014, he was named a member of the All-Big Ten Second Team by the media after tying for fourth in the league with eight sacks and ranking 14th in the conference with 12 tackles for loss.

Last season, Ott recorded five sacks, 7.5 tackles and three forced fumbles for loss in just six games. He left Iowa's win over Illinois with the torn ACL and did not play the remainder of the season.

There is no timeframe for when the NCAA might make a decision on Ott's status for next season.

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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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.