Illinois Public Media News
The Fighting Illini football team kicked off their 2011 campaign with a 33-15 win over Arkansas State Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium Champaign.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 267 yards, hitting on 16 of 23 attempts. A.J. Jenkins and Darius Millines each eclipsed a hundred yards in receiving, Jenkins with 148 and Millines with 119. Each caught a long touchdown pass from Scheelhaase.
Jenkins said he felt motivated to keep up with Millines in the stats column.
"It's kind of a competition, actually," said Jenkins. "Honestly, when he scored, I knew I had to get me at least one. I wasn't going to let him beat me. Darius is a great receiver, but we all know who's number one. Hopefully next week I have over 100 yards against, and we just keep rolling from there."
For his part, Millines says he enjoys the rivalry with Jenkins.
"We're a duo, but we're also pushing each other as a competition," said Millines, "to see who's going to get the most catches, who's going to get the most yards, who's going to make the better plays. So that will push us to play better and play harder."
Jason Ford rushed for 93 yards, and Trulon Henry sparked the defense with 8 tackles and an interception.
Illini players said they weren't affected by the hundred degree heat index, but a lot of fans succumbed to heat-related illness. Many more left early from a game that drew a sparse crowd, officially tallied at around 45,000 attendees.
Saturday marked the beginning of the Mike Thomas era. Reporters were eager to know what the new athletic director said to Coach Ron Zook as they walked off the field.
"Congratulations and he's excited to be here," said Zook. "Obviously we're excited to have him here. And I congratulated him because I got his first win as an athletic director."
The Illini return to action at home next week against the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.
The Chicago Cubs have fired general manager Jim Hendry after another disappointing season.
The Cubs announced the move Friday before a game with the rival St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs come into the game 18 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central and 16 games below .500.
Assistant GM Randy Bush will serve as interim manager.
The 56-year-old Hendry was named general manager in July 2002. New owner Tom Ricketts thanked Hendry for 17 years of service to the Cubs. Ricketts says it's time for a "fresh approach in our baseball leadership and our search begins immediately."
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Sales of Illinois lottery tickets grew by 3 percent last year to set a new record.
Officials said Monday that sales totaled nearly $2.3 billion. That tops the old record of $2.2 billion, which was set just a year earlier.
Out of that revenue, $690 million was used to support state programs. Education got most of the money, but statewide construction projects got $54 million and $4 million went to causes like research on breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.
The sales figures are from the 12 months that ended on June 30. The total of nearly $2.3 billion amounts to more than $177 for every person in Illinois.
Lottery officials say sales have climbed every year for nine straight years.
President Barack Obama is headed to western Illinois during a three-day bus tour of Midwestern states this week.
Obama's itinerary is scheduled to include stops in Atkinson and Alpha in Henry County where he'll preside over town hall-style on Wednesday before returning to the White House.
The White House says President Barack Obama expects to get an earful from regular folks, including supporters, who are frustrated by Congress and some of Obama's decisions.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday that Obama expects to hear from people who are fed up with dysfunction in Washington and what he says is the willingness of some lawmakers to put politics ahead of the country.
Earnest also said Obama even expects some of his own supporters to challenge some of the compromises he made during negotiations with Congress to reduce government spending and trim the nation's debt.
Obama plans five events over three days in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The tour begins Monday with a town hall-style event in Cannon Falls, Minn., followed by a second question-and answer session in Decorah, Iowa
Mike Thomas will take the helm of the University of Illinois' athletic department before the season's first football game on Sept. 3.
The 51-year-old Thomas is currently the athletic director at the University of Cincinnati, and before that he had the same position at the University of Akron.
During his tenure in Cincinnati, Thomas is credited with boosting UC's athletic program to national prominence, while raising money for the department's budget by $7 million dollars. He also lowered the annual operating deficit by more than $6 million. Thomas said fundraising will be one of his top priorities at the U of I.
"We need to get out there, and probably raise more money," Thomas said. "With tuition going up every year, it's almost gone up seven percent this year. You know, I think that's going to be key. I think that's a pressing issue, but it always will be."
Thomas added that the U of I's sports teams need to be branded better nationally.
"I think we need to be the king of the state," he said. "If we're doing things the right way, if we're winning at a high level, if we're working with integrity, and our kids continue to get it done in the classroom, our goal is to be a national brand, identifiable from coast to coast."
Thomas replaces long-time U of I athletics director Ron Guenther, who retired this summer after nearly 20 years on the job.
Among the many issues facing Thomas at the U of I are plans to expand Assembly Hall. University President Michael Hogan said that project is still on track to move forward.
"We have hired an architectural engineering firm to evaluate Assembly Hall, and to give us some options on what we might do and what we can afford," Hogan explained. "When Mike gets here, that will be one of his very first assignments."
Thomas' appointment comes one day after the university announced Phyllis Wise would become the next chancellor and vice president of the Urbana campus. Wise is expected to officially start her job Oct. 1, pending approval by the university's Board of Trustees
(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)
Former University of Illinois basketball player Jereme Richmond faces battery and weapons charges.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports Richmond, of Waukegan, was arrested Monday after police say he shoved a 17-year-old girlfriend and threatened to shoot her outside her house. Police drove up as 19-year-old Richmond searched for something in a car while another man waited. Police found a gun in the car.
Richmond is charged with aggravated battery, aggravated unlawful use of weapons, domestic battery and other charges. Lake County court officials say he hasn't entered a plea and doesn't yet have an attorney.
Richmond was heavily recruited but spent one season at Illinois. He played sparingly and was benched for off-court issues before leaving for the NBA draft. He wasn't drafted.
The association that oversees Illinois high school sports has announced it will continue testing athletes for performance enhancing drugs.
The Illinois High School Association said Monday its board voted to continue the testing that started in the 2008-09 school year. Illinois is one of three states that test high school athletes for performance enhancers such as steroids.
The association said it tested 747 athletes last school year and had four positive tests. Two of those were cleared by medical review and two were found to be true positives.
IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said critics might consider the low number of positive test results a reason to stop testing. But he said the program is meant to be a deterrent rather than to catch all offenders.
Illinois will be joined by West Virginia in a stop at an American air base on its upcoming trip to Italy.
The university says the Illini and Mountaineers will be at Aviano Air Base on Aug. 17.
The teams will face each other on base in a short scrimmage.They'll also conduct a clinic for children of troops stationed at the base north of Venice. The teams will also hold a dunk contest and scrimmage against some of the troops.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber says the event required an NCAA waiver. He says he's looking forward to the visit.
The Illini leave for Italy on Aug. 10 and return ten days later. They'll play Italian pro squads and other teams while abroad.
(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn continues to meet with those who have an interest in gaming legislation lawmakers approved earlier this year.
Quinn said he is listening to both critics and supporters of a plan to add 5 new casinos in the state, including one in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Lake County and Chicago's south suburbs. The measure would also allow slot machines at Chicago airports and at horse tracks, including the State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
"Last Friday I saw the Rockford people," Quinn said. "This Friday I am seeing the horsemen and people involved in raising horses. There are others who are interested in the bill, both pro and con. I think there are some strong critics of the bill that are on our schedule. I want to make sure everyone gets their voice heard."
Quinn has been critical of the gaming expansion, saying it is "top heavy." However, he has said he is willing to consider a Chicago casino if it is done properly.
Supporters say the gaming legislation will bring a revenue windfall to the state. But opponents warn it lacks regulatory safeguards and should be rejected.
The Chicago Crime Commission has criticized the legislation, calling it "flawed" and saying it will lead to corruption. The watchdog group said Wednesday that Quinn shouldn't sign the law because it cannot be successfully implemented.
Lawmakers passed the legislation in May, but Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has a legislative "hold'' on it so lawmakers can try to work out a deal. With that hold in place, Quinn cannot act on the bill.
"The senate president continues to talk to the governor about what specific concerns he there might be, if there is a need to go back in and tighten up various language," Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said.
But sources say Cullerton will send the bill to Quinn's desk by the end of the month, regardless of a possible veto from Quinn.
If Quinn vetoes or changes the bill, the General Assembly will need to pass it again. The veto session starts the last week in October.
Concussions experts are working to raise awareness about brain injury symptoms ahead of new Illinois legislation aimed at preventing affected student athletes from resuming play too soon.
About 100 coaches, trainers and athletic directors from around Illinois gathered at an awareness-raising symposium Wednesday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Doctors there urged them to spread the word about concussion symptoms to parents and players involved in contact sports.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation Thursday requiring student athletes with concussions to get medical approval before resuming play.
Hall of Famer Dan Hampton told the forum that times have changed from his football days, when in his words, "the more barbaric it was, the better.'' He says he embraces the law, and that young athletes should, too.
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