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REPORT: Judge issues temporary restraining order, paving way for Shannon return

The Illini are set to get their star player back.

Illinois v Tennessee Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Three weeks after Terrence Shannon Jr. — who is charged with rape in Douglas Co., Kansas — was indefinitely suspended by Illinois, federal judge Colleen Lawless issued a temporary restraining order Friday.

This action allows Shannon to return to the men’s basketball program, according to multiple reports.

“Defendants are enjoined from suspending Plaintiff from the basketball team without at least affording him the protections of the OSCR policy,” the report stated.

The judge’s decision came after Shannon’s legal team filed a lawsuit against the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. The complaint filed Jan. 8 said Shannon “maintains his innocence” and that the university has “served as judge, jury, and executioner” by suspending him indefinitely on Dec. 28, 2023.

The university and athletic department have yet to make a statement following Friday’s ruling.

Recent Timeline

Shannon’s hearing against the university was held Jan. 11 in Springfield, where a decision was put off as Judge Lawless needed time to process all presented information.

A few of his Illinois teammates were in attendance for the court hearing, including Coleman Hawkins, Quincy Guerrier, Marcus Domask, Luke Goode and Justin Harmon.

During media availability last Saturday, forward Marcus Domask was asked whether the group coordinated its 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.

“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 maintained 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.

In a news conference before Illinois’ win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 29, athletic director Josh Whitman said that DIA was made aware that Lawrence, Kansas police were investigating the incident in late September, but 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 other members of the basketball team, including Justin Harmon.

Whitman said the alleged incident involved inappropriate touching of a woman — who the complaint said was born in 2005 — at a Lawrence bar.

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 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.

The fifth-year senior was present on Zoom for his first Kansas court appearance Thursday, where the formal reading of charges and potential punishments were waived. The date for his preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 23.

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 (13-4, 4-2 Big Ten) so far this season.

Illinois welcomes Rutgers to State Farm Center on Sunday afternoon.