Big Ten

Spartans give Mark Dantonio a raise with revised contract


Spartans give Mark Dantonio a raise with revised contract

Five double-digit win seasons and a pair of Big Ten championships in six seasons. That'll get you a nice raise.

Michigan State rewarded head football coach Mark Dantonio with a revised contract that ups his annual compensation from $3.67 million to $4.3 million, the school announced Friday.

Regardless of what you think about the amount of money college football coaches make, when compared to his peers, Dantonio has certainly earned this kind of reward after taking the Spartans to the level of college football's elites in recent seasons. In nine campaigns as the head coach, he's reached a bowl game nine times, and he's posted a terrific 65-16 record over the past six seasons, which have featured three trips to the Big Ten Championship Game, two conference titles, a Rose Bowl championship, a Sugar Bowl championship and a berth in this past season's College Football Playoff. The Spartans have finished ranked in the top 10 in each of the last three seasons.

“With three straight top-10 finishes and two Big Ten championships during that same period, Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff have built an elite football program,” Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis said in the school's announcement. “Michigan State’s football brand has never been stronger. We’re so excited about the future of our football program under Mark’s leadership and direction. The amended contract and enhanced compensation reflect his and his coaching staff’s value in the current marketplace. These updated figures ensure that Mark and his assistants remain in the upper tier of the Big Ten. Mark and his staff have created a winning culture as well as an environment that encourages current and future student-athletes to pursue excellence in the classroom, in the community and on the playing field. It’s obvious that Mark and his assistants are committed to building relationships that will last well beyond their four- or five-year college experience.”

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In addition to the revised contract for Dantonio — the first Big Ten coach ever to record five 11-win seasons in a six-year span — Hollis announced that $250,000 would be used to boost the salaries of Dantonio's assistant coaches.

“The university remains committed to providing all of the tools necessary to sustain a championship-caliber football program,” Dantonio said in the announcement. “I wish to thank President (Lou Anna K.) Simon, Mark Hollis, the Board of Trustees and the entire administration for their trust, loyalty and support.

“Coaching staff continuity remains extremely important for the long-term success of our football program. We have had outstanding coaches and support personnel who have been committed to having a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes. Coaching is teaching, and our coaches do it as well as anyone in the country. We’re excited about what our program has accomplished over the last nine years — the last three seasons in particular. We truly believe the best is yet to come. We will continue to strive for excellence in all aspects of our program.

“Our current and future student-athletes understand the expectations of our program. Our focus remains on winning championships, graduation and teaching social responsibility. Over the last three years, we have competed as one of the elite teams in the country. Our student-athletes have embraced this distinction as well as the expectations that accompany it. We will continue to dream big.”

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.