Big Ten

Tim Beckman steps down from volunteer assistant role at North Carolina

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Tim Beckman steps down from volunteer assistant role at North Carolina

Well that was fast.

About as quickly as the world found out Tim Beckman was working as a volunteer assistant at North Carolina, the former Illinois head coach stepped down from his post.

In a Thursday release, Beckman said he doesn't want to be a distraction to the team.

"I do not wish to be a further distraction to the team or university, and I will no longer serve as a volunteer at UNC," Beckman said in the announcement, published by the News & Observer.

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora defended Beckman's presence Wednesday, showing a surprising lack of concern over the fact that Beckman was fired from his position as the head football coach at Illinois a year ago when an investigation found evidence supporting accusations of player mistreatment, with former players alleging on social media that Beckman forced players to play injured, demeaned injured players and threatened to take their scholarships away.

Beckman was said to only be working on scouting and film study, but pictures taken at North Carolina practice showed him working with players on the field.

"I don't believe everything I read, all right," Fedora told reporters Wednesday, his quotes tweeted by Andrew Carter of the News & Observer. "I know Tim. I know his side of the story, also. So I was comfortable with it. If I wouldn't have been, obviously I wouldn't have brought him. I wouldn't have allowed him to be in our program. But I was very comfortable with it. I don't have any issues with it at all."

Fedora acknowledged the controversy, saying, "I know it's going to happen, and then a couple of days from now it won't be news. I mean, I promise you, I didn't see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football. You know? I mean, the guy didn't win enough games. That's all it was."

North Carolina brass clearly wasn't as comfortably with Beckman's presence as Fedora was, with some strong words coming from the university chancellor.

"When I first learned yesterday that coach Larry Fedora had invited former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman to serve as a volunteer with the football program, I was surprised and disappointed," chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement, published by the News & Observer. "The decision for Mr. Beckman to withdraw from his volunteer position was the right thing to do, and moving forward I don’t expect this situation to recur."

The possibility existed for Beckman to show up in Champaign, as Illinois plays host to North Carolina in the second game of the season. But with Beckman no longer a part of the Tar Heels' staff, that possibility no longer exists.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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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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.