Terrence Shannon Jr., a star University of Illinois basketball player, was suspended last month following allegations that he assaulted a woman in a Kansas bar after an Illini football game.
But after appealing his suspension to U.S. District Judge Colleen Lawless in Illinois, he has been reinstated and can practice with the team and play in their games.
Lawless said Shannon stood to “suffer irreparable harm” without the injunction. The suspension, she wrote, “can and will impact his career opportunities, current income from his NIL (name, image, likeness) contract, and anticipated future income.”
Shannon is a first-team all-Big Ten guard who’s projected to go in the first round of the NBA draft. He’s already suffered “irreparable harm” as a result of the charges against him.
Shannon faces one count of rape or an alternative count of misdemeanor sexual battery in a case that stems from a September trip to watch the Illinois-Kanas football game. The encounter occurred in a crowded bar where an 18-year-old woman told a detective that Shannon put his hand under her skirt, grabbed her buttocks, and penetrated her with his finger.” A preliminary hearing on the charges will be on February 23.
His attorneys argued that the school ignored due process and Shannon’s presumption of innocence in suspending him before the resolution of the criminal case against him.
Because the criminal case is expected to extend beyond the college basketball season and the NBA draft — some prognosticators had Shannon as a first-round pick before his arrest — his attorneys sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the suspension from causing what they called irreparable harm to Shannon, a fifth-year guard who transferred to Illinois last season after three years at Texas Tech.
I am 100% behind efforts to keep a rapist off the court and away from women of any age. But is Shannon a danger to women? The “he said-she said” nature of the charges would indicate that the school acted precipitously in suspending Shannon.
“His NBA career will tank,” his lawyers said in the filing, “as will his reputation, the ability to support his family, his ability to play collegiate athletics (and perhaps professional sports), and his presumption of innocence.”
But in her decision, Lawless said the university’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics discipline policy used to suspend Shannon lacked safeguards found in a separate student misconduct policy called the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR).
That policy, the judge wrote, “provides adequate safeguards through detailed notice, levels of review, an actual investigation, disclosure of evidence, witness participation, a defined burden of proof, and a written decision.”
The judge’s order notes that the school could suspend Shannon under its OSCR policy. The university’s investigation under OSCR began Jan. 5. According to the Tribune, OSCRT investigations for sexual misconduct take 40-60 days.