Terrence Shannon Jr. has been cleared to return to the University of Illinois men’s basketball team after a federal judge on Friday granted a preliminary injunction sought by the Chicago native, who was suspended late last month amid a rape allegation in Kansas.
In a written order, U.S. District Judge Colleen 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.”
The team’s next game is Sunday at home against Rutgers.
In a statement thanking his legal team, Shannon said he is “grateful for today’s ruling and looking forward to playing for the Illini again.”
A first-team All-Big Ten guard last season, Shannon was second in the conference in scoring at the time of his suspension with 21.7 points per game. He has missed the Illini’s last six games, and they are 4-2 in his absence.
Robin Kaler, Illinois associate chancellor, said in an email that 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, 23, faces one count of rape or an alternative count of misdemeanor sexual battery in a case that stems from a September trip he and two others took to watch the Illini football team play the University of Kansas.
Lawrence police said in an affidavit that a woman, born in 2005, told a detective that Shannon put his hand under her skirt, grabbed her buttocks and penetrated her with his finger while at a crowded bar near Kansas’ campus.
Shannon has denied the allegations. A preliminary hearing in his Douglas County, Kansas, criminal case is scheduled for Feb. 23.
His attorneys argued that University of Illinois administrators “ignored the fundamentals of due process and the presumption of innocence” by suspending Shannon from the team while his criminal case is pending.
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.
“His NBA career will tank,” they 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.”
The university defended the decision to suspend Shannon, saying its student-athlete misconduct procedures “allow us to respond swiftly to allegations of misconduct and serious crimes while affording our student-athletes a fair process and waiting for the legal system and university discipline processes to proceed.”
Any potential damage to Shannon’s future, the university said in court filings, “is directly connected to his criminal arrest for rape, not the university’s decisions.”
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.”
Lawless’ order notes that Illinois could ultimately suspend Shannon under its OSCR policy. The university’s investigation under OSCR began Jan. 5.
Under the university’s OSCR policy, investigations involving allegations of sexual misconduct typically take between 40 and 60 business days.