An urge to merge

News-Gazette staff writer Fred Kroner has examined the benefits and drawbacks to a possible merger of the Big 12 and Mid-State Six conferences. Here's what he discovered:

Rookies provide baseball punch

Illinois tapped some unlikely sources to snap out of its Big Ten baseball funk Saturday.

Freshman Tim Gorski, making his second career start and first in conference play, overcame a line drive to his left leg and pitched a complete-game four-hitter in the UI's 3-2 win against host Michigan. Freshman Trevor Frederickson had his first game-winning RBI as the Illini ended a five-game Big Ten losing streak.

UI's Phillip passes away

Andy Phillip, arguably the greatest basketball player in University of Illinois history, died Saturday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 79.

Phillip is the second of the UI's famed Whiz Kids to pass away. Jack Smiley died at the age of 78 last July.

Illini tennis teams move to semis

It was business as usual for the Illinois men's tennis team Friday during the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals in Madison, Wis.

The Illini, ranked ninth nationally, bounced Indiana 4-2 to advance to the semifinals against Minnesota. The Gophers defeated Michigan 4-0.

Illini breaks record

DES MOINES, Iowa – The finals in the 100-meter hurdles aren't until today, but Perdita Felicien had reason to celebrate at Friday's Drake Relays.

The Illinois sophomore broke a meet record with a qualifying run of 12.92 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.

Tate: Illinois AD keeps focus on football

As a former coach and blocker for All-American Jim Grabowski, football is never far from Ron Guenther's heart – and this year more than ever.

At least half the major items on the Illini athletic director's plate are grid-related. Some are developing on schedule. Others must be pushed back because of financial and time constraints.

Coming to America no big hurdle for Swedish twins

CHAMPAIGN – The Swedish media apparently isn't shy about dipping deep into its pockets.

At least when it comes to covering the overseas exploits of two of the country's brightest track and field prospects.

Illini Insider

News-Gazette staff writer Jeff Huth''s review and preview of University of Illinois sports:

Hitter leaves Illini volleyball team

CHAMPAIGN – Anne Koester, who played in 30 matches last season, is leaving the Illinois volleyball program.

The Illini sophomore recently asked for and was granted a release from her athletic scholarship. Koester is the first player recruited by fifth-year UI coach Don Hardin to leave with remaining eligibility for reasons other than injury or health issues.

Illini leave home after split

Coaches who leave a job for one at another school often don't see firsthand the development of athletes they've recruited.

Illinois softball assistant Donna DiBiase-Lemon probably wishes she'd seen less of the players she signed to play at Loyola.