The role of an athletic director touches on an endless variety of issues. Moving into May, Mike Thomas provides an Illini update:
How has the success of the men’s spring teams impacted the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics?
Mike Turk feels like the younger brother trying to play with the older boys on the sandlot.
Turk is coaching a strong Illini men’s track and field team — ranked 17th in the latest outdoor poll — but a new bar has been set on campus, and it’s extremely high.
There’s a strong Canadian tinge to this week’s three-team recruiting showdown for Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis.
Ennis is making rapid-fire visits, inserting Illinois between Baylor and Oregon, with Dana Altman’s Ducks reportedly having an inside track as the result of basketball connections tracing back to Ontario.
“We can’t do it. We can’t pick out an MVP on this tennis team. It’s impossible.”
Brad Dancer’s words aren’t “coach speak.” A year ago, then-junior Farris Gosea of Wales captured MVP honors, not just for Illini tennis, but also for the Big Ten.
Coaches routinely stress that last year’s outcomes have no current bearing.
Illini Nation must hope that is true. Because every time somebody asks if the Illini are improved in football, my response is, “Yes.” But then I think about the schedule.
The temptation was alluring.
After two Illini seasons in the bullpen, southpaw Tyler Jay was intrigued by the prospect of starting. And what’s wrong with getting perhaps 100 innings out of a superstar as opposed to 40 as a reliever? UI pitching coach Drew Dickinson was among those enamored by the idea.
For all his foibles and eccentricities, and despite a general disregard for defense, Tom Crean is poised to bring Indiana basketball back to national prominence.
Before you ask: Yes, Kentucky’s perennial NCAA basketball contenders are in great shape with the APR (Academic Progress Rate) requirements that knocked Connecticut, champion in 2011 and 2014, out of the 2013 tournament.
First, let me acknowledge ... I had reservations, in light of ailments that kept 15 Illini on the sidelines, about the advisability of conducting a spring football game Saturday.
We are left to wonder:
Why are University of Illinois men’s spring sports having such success while the school’s teams in the “money sports,” football and basketball, struggle?