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Terrence Shannon Jr. waives first Kansas court appearance

It’s looking unlikely he’ll suit up again for Illinois this season.

TCR // Craig Pessman

Just under a week after an Illinois federal judge delayed ruling on his request for a temporary restraining order and immediate reinstatement, Terrence Shannon Jr. was present via Zoom for his first Douglas County (Kansas) court hearing on Thursday.

The formal reading of charges and potential punishments were waived in Thursday’s hearing, and a date for a preliminary hearing has been set.

Judge Sally Pokorny and all attorneys agreed on February 23 from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

In last week’s TRO hearing in Springfield, Shannon and his attorneys were informed that Judge Colleen Lawless held off on a ruling.

“If sidelined now, to ‘wait until the criminal case is over’, my life as I know it will be ruined,” Shannon wrote in a Jan. 2 letter addressed to the University of Illinois student-athlete conduct panel. “I undoubtedly will have my day in court, and I trust my legal team will work in my favor to achieve success. Unfortunately, I cannot wait for the wheels of justice from the sidelines.”

Shannon will continue to wait from the sidelines.

“I’m not in a position at this point to issue a ruling from the bench,” the U.S. district judge said. “I can promise it will be done in an expedient manner.”

Shannon must now wait on the result of his TRO lawsuit.

The incident, which took place in the Martini Room of the Jayhawk Café in Lawrence, Kansas, allegedly took place the weekend of Sept. 9. In a Dec. 29 press conference, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said that the alleged incident involved the inappropriate touching of a woman, who the complaint said was born in 2005, at a Lawrence bar.

Court documents state law enforcement corroborated the victim’s story. Other witnesses, cell phone records and surveillance video placed both the defendant and Shannon inside the Lawrence nightclub.

LAST WEEK

The TRO lawsuit named the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and school president Tim Killeen as defendants. The complaint filed last Monday said Shannon “maintains his innocence” and that the university has “served as judge, jury, and executioner” by suspending him indefinitely on Dec. 28, 2023.

A few of TSJ’s teammates were in attendance for the court hearing on Thursday, which was open to the public, including Coleman Hawkins, Quincy Guerrier, Marcus Domask, Luke Goode and Justin Harmon.

It’s known that Harmon was with Shannon on their September trip to Lawrence.

During his media availability last Saturday, forward Marcus Domask was asked if the group coordinated their trip to Springfield.

“We just wanted to be there to support our teammate. That’s really all that was,” he said.

Head coach Brad Underwood was on the same page as Domask and his players, saying “They’re supporting their teammate, and that’s what good teammates do.”

Late Thursday night, the U of I issued a response to Shannon’s motion for a temporary restraining order. The statement emphasized that their actions were in line with the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics’ policy.

“There are forums in which the Plaintiff is entitled to the procedural measures he seeks, namely the court in Kansas where his criminal charges are pending,” the statement reads. “The DIA policy that gave rise to this case, however, is not such a forum.”

“Plaintiff does not have a legally protected right to play on the basketball team in this case. In turn, Plaintiff cannot require that the University provide the procedural measures he is pursuing,” the statement said. The university maintains its position that it did not infringe on the legal rights of TSJ by following the DIA’s policy and temporarily removing him from the team.

Shannon was indefinitely suspended on Dec. 28 after the Douglas Co. District Attorney issued a warrant for his arrest and charged the 23-year-old with rape.

REFRESHER

In a news conference before Illinois’ win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 29, athletic director Josh Whitman said that the DIA was made aware that Lawrence, Kansas police were investigating the incident in late September. Still, the DIA and campus officials did not receive “actionable information” until the arrest warrant was issued Dec. 27.

A criminal complaint shows that the alleged incident took place during the weekend of Sept. 8, when Illinois’ football team was playing Kansas. Shannon was in attendance with Harmon and DyShawn Hobson, an Illinois graduate assistant. Hobson is said to have assisted the two on their trip.

Shannon traveled to Lawrence again last month to present himself to authorities and was released on $50,000 bond. The automatic suspension then kicked into place based on Illinois’ student-athlete code of conduct.

Whitman said the conduct panel, which includes him and two others, would then meet and make a final decision on the suspension.

“It is possible,” Whitman said last month when asked about the possibility of Shannon playing again this season. “That’s one of the reasons that we designed the conduct panel the way that we did. It was recognizing that legal processes can take a long time. We don’t always have the luxury of that time in making some of our determinations about a student athlete’s status.”

Underwood is not part of the panel or involved in that decision.

Shannon, a Chicago native who played his first three collegiate seasons at Texas Tech, has averaged a team-leading 21.7 points per game for No. 14 Illinois (12-4) so far this season. Illinois won each of its first two games by 30+ points without Shannon, but lost to No. 1 Purdue two weeks ago, 83-78. The Illini bounced back and beat Michigan State last week, but then lost at home to Maryland on Sunday.