Money, money, money! Some describe the NCAA as the sports version of Monopoly.
Illinois now officially lists its athletic budget at $110 million, this year incorporating State Farm Center operating costs and debt service into what had previously been accepted as a number somewhere over $80 million.
He hasn’t turned 18 yet, but last week, Illinois sophomore Brandon Ngai won an NCAA championship on the pommel horse as the Illini finished fourth as a team in Columbus, Ohio. Ngai, who made his Illini debut at the age of 16, is believed to be the youngest participant in a varsity sport in school history.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Illinois came away from the NCAA Championships with an individual national champion each of the last five seasons.
Brandon Ngai made it six in a row Saturday. The 17-year-old sophomore posted a score of 15.450 to claim the pommel horse title by 0.150 point over Ohio State’s Alec Yoder, who beat him by 0.050 point two weeks ago in the Big Ten event finals.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Illini needed to place among the top three during Friday night’s session at the NCAA Championships to keep their season going.
The public will get its first glance at Lovie Smith coaching the Illinois football team on Saturday during the Illini’s only open practice this spring. But that isn’t the only UI sport staying active this weekend. Here are three more to keep an eye on:
CHAMPAIGN — Two Illinois swimmers will have the opportunity to compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials this week.
Samantha Stratford and Megan Vuong will represent the Illini at the meet, which starts today and runs through Sunday. Stratford, a native of Cambridge, Ontario, has qualified in the 100-meter butterfly, 200 individual medley and 400 individual medley.
One hundred years ago this week — April 5, 1916 — Illinois baseball stole a 4-2 win at Alabama, thanks to the seven-hit pitching of Woodward “Red” Gunkel. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior right-hander from Sheffield was backed by a sensational lineup that included right fielder George Halas, slugging left fielder Potsy Clark and the team captain, catcher John Bradley.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The effort was there. Just not the execution, according to Illinois men’s gymnastics coach Justin Spring.
For the second straight year, the Illini finished second at the Big Ten Championships, with Ohio State winning the Big Ten title at St. John Arena.
The third-ranked Buckeyes compiled a score of 434.450, with the fifth-ranked Illini next in line at 429.700.
While current Illinois football players go through their first spring practice Friday evening in Champaign, and potential future Illini basketball player Jeremiah Tilmon plays this afternoon in New York, here are five other UI sports to keep an eye on beginning Friday:
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois’ home and Big Ten opener did not go according to plan Friday, as the Illini were thumped by Nebraska 10-2 in five innings at Eichelberger Field.
The Cornhuskers (19-9, 1-0 Big Ten) jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Cassie McClure first-inning single.
But they poured it on in the second frame, tallying eight times.