Illinois suspends star basketball player Terrence Shannon Jr. following rape charge

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Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. passes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Illinois suspended basketball player Terrence Shannon Jr. on Thursday after he was charged with rape for an alleged incident that happened when the football team played at Kansas in September.

The school suspended Shannon from “all team activities, effective immediately,” a day after the Douglas (Kansas) County District Attorney issued a warrant for his arrest. Chicago-area attorney Mark Sutter said Shannon is “innocent.”

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Prosecutors in Douglas County charged Shannon on Dec. 5 with rape or an alternative count of sexual battery. The complaint says the accuser was born in 2005.

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.

Cheryl Cadue, public information officer for the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, said the office was limited in what it could say about the case because it was pending. She directed questions to the sheriff’s office.

The probable cause affidavit was not immediately released.

The alleged incident happened when Shannon attended the Illini's football game at Kansas on Sept. 8. He was not part of the school's traveling party.

Shannon traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, on Thursday and turned himself in to authorities. He was released on a $50,000 bond, and the school said he was returning to Champaign. Sheriff’s office spokesman George Diepenbrock said his booking photo would not be released.

“Since September, when these allegations surfaced, Terrence has cooperated with law enforcement throughout the investigation, declaring his innocence from the beginning," Sutter said in a statement. "Now, several months later, my office learned that formal charges were filed against him yesterday in Lawrence, KS. In less than 24 hours, my client responded, and he voluntarily surrendered to local authorities for processing and release. Terrence is innocent of these charges, and he intends to take his case to trial.”

Illinois said it has been aware since late September that police in Lawrence were investigating Shannon but had “yet to receive actionable information” until Wednesday.

“The University and DIA (Division of Intercollegiate Athletics) have shown time and again that we have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct,” athletic director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “At the same time, DIA policy affords student-athletes appropriate levels of due process based on the nature and severity of the allegations. We will rely on that policy and our prior experiences to manage this situation appropriately for the University and the involved parties.”

The head of the prosecutor’s office, former University of Kansas law professor Suzanne Valdez, was elected in 2020 after the previous prosecutor charged one of her students with making a false rape report. The charge was eventually dropped amid intense pressure. Valdez said law enforcement in Lawrence failed to protect women.

In his second season at Illinois after three years at Texas Tech, Shannon is second in the Big Ten in scoring at 21.7 points per game. Only Purdue's Zach Edey is averaging more.

No. 11 Illinois has a home game against Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday. Whitman is scheduled to address the media prior to the game. Coach Brad Underwood's availability with reporters on Thursday was canceled.


Seligman reported from Lake Forest, Ill., and Hollingsworth from Mission, Kan.


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