SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday reinstated Illinois basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr., who had been suspended from the team since he was charged with rape in Kansas.
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Lawless found that the university had violated Shannon’s civil rights.
The suspension, she ruled, deprived Shannon of “protected property interests” without due process. In the case of Shannon, whom the court noted is supporting several family members, his property interests include retaining his chances to be an NBA lottery pick — among the first 14 players taken in the draft — and to cash in on potential endorsements allowed under the NCAA’s name, image and likeness (NIL) policy.
“Plaintiff’s participation in sports is vital to the development of his career as well as his current and future economic opportunities considering plaintiff’s intention to declare for the 2024 NBA Draft,” Lawless wrote in the order issued Friday. “Prior to his suspension, plaintiff was projected to be a lottery pick in the NBA. His participation in future games impact his prospects in the draft and his earning potential.”
Lawless said that the “public interest is not harmed” by putting in place “procedural safeguards while he is presumed innocent of the criminal charges.”
The preliminary injunction gives the university the right to appeal. In a statement, Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler said Shannon “has been reinstated to full status as a university student-athlete and will be available for basketball practice and competition. We will continue to review the court order and monitor the case.”
Shannon, a 6-foot-6 guard, missed six games during his suspension. The 14th-ranked Illini have gone 4-2 in his absence and host Rutgers on Sunday. He is averaging a team-best 21.7 points per game.
Prosecutors in Douglas County, Kansas, charged Shannon on Dec. 5 with rape or an alternative count of sexual battery. After an arrest warrant was issued, the university suspended Shannon on Dec. 28 from “all team activities, effective immediately.”
The rape charge carries a sentence of 12 to 54 years in prison, while the battery charge carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.
The alleged incident occurred early on Sept. 9 after Shannon and a friend attended the Illini’s football game at Kansas. Police reports that are part of the court record indicate a woman, who said she was born in 2005, told police she was at a bar when she was summoned by a man she later identified from an online team roster as Shannon.
The woman said Shannon grabbed her buttocks and then reached under her skirt and touched her sexually. The woman said the bar was so crowded, she couldn’t move.
However, a graduate assistant for the Illini basketball team who was assigned to drive Shannon and a teammate to Kansas and chaperone them said he was near Shannon the entire night and saw no activity of the type the woman described.
Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball