Between the first and second quarters of ISU’s season-opening football game, a video of former Sycamore player Tunch Ilkin played on the video screen. “I wish I could be there with you,” Ilkin said. “I appreciate this honor and all your support, thoughts, and prayers. I love you and Go Sycamores.” Less than a week later, Ilkin, 63, died of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Ilkin and another former Sycamore player, Ron Carpenter, who also has a neurodegenerative disease, have been honored by teammates, family and friends with an endowment to benefit ISU Football. The Carpenter/Ilkin Football Endowment has raised more than $40,000 from more than 50 donors.
Ilkin, who played 14 seasons in the NFL, announced his retirement in June 2021 as an NFL television and radio analyst for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last October, he announced that he had ALS. Carpenter, a former co-captain for the Sycamores football team, served as president of the ISU Board of Trustees and the ISU Alumni Association Board. “We are truly excited for the Carpenter/Ilkin Football Endowment that will not only help support our football program but also honor two Sycamore greats,” ISU Director of Athletics Sherard Clinkscales said. “We are thankful to the former teammates, friends and family members who came together to create this endowment and properly recognize Ron and Tunch.” (continued on page 22)