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CHAMPAIGN – Stu Levenick was a walkon football player for University of Illinois coach Bob Blackman back in the 1970s.

No scholarship. Only a chance to play as a long-shot offensive lineman.

By his senior year, he had earned a scholarship, was voted team captain and became the offensive MVP. A short time later he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts.

Injured in training camp, Levenick had to quickly fall back on his college education, which he did with great success. Now retired as group president of Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, on Thursday Levenick and his wife, Nancy, delivered a $5 million gift for the construction of the new Illinois Football Performance Center.

The team auditorium in the building that will be completed prior to the start of the 2019 season, will be called “Levenick Auditorium.”

Levenick, who previously endowed a scholarship for a football walkon, said he is grateful to the university for the success he’s had.

“I think (Athletics Director) Josh Whitman said it right,” Levenick said. “He said no one has to do everything, but everyone ought to do something. We’re trying to get that message out. This university needs support from the people who have benefitted from it. I’m just happy to do it.”

Illini name line coach

Austin Clark, a 27-year-old who has been a graduate assistant working at Southern California, will reportedly be Lovie Smith's new defensive line coach, multiple sources reported.

Clark played college football with the son of Illini defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson at Cal and would replace Mike Phair, who accepted a job with the Indianapolis Colts.


Sports Columnist

Sports columnist for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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