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Suspended lllini players face further discipline

Posted: Tuesday December 2, 2003 6:03PM; Updated: Tuesday December 2, 2003 6:04PM
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URBANA, Ill. (AP) -- Three University of Illinois basketball players suspended from the team last month after being linked to a burglary also must attend counseling and perform community service, the university said.

A statement issued from the school's public affairs office said the players also will be on probation with the team and could face additional discipline for possible violations of the university's conduct code.

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"I think they've been contacted and they're trying to arrange a time for them to come in," Dean of Students Bill Riley said Tuesday.

Discipline could range from placing the students on probation at the university to suspension or dismissal from the school, he said. Suspension would mean the student would have to leave school for a specified time and then ask to be re-enrolled. Dismissal, a rarely used punishment, is expulsion from the university with no readmission.

The statement, issued late Monday, did not name the players, but it said they were suspended by coach Bruce Weber as soon as the university was told by Champaign police that student-athletes were allegedly involved in the theft.

Luther Head and Aaron Spears each have served four-game suspensions and Richard McBride also was suspended for four games for violating team rules. They are the only players whom Weber has suspended.

Head and Spears returned to action last Saturday against Temple. McBride's suspension was scheduled to end with Tuesday night's game at North Carolina.

The Champaign County prosecutor's office decided last week against filing charges in the burglary, which occurred in an apartment near the campus on Nov. 2. The victims of the crime had their property returned or were compensated for it and did not want charges filed, said John Piland, the state's attorney.

The school's disciplinary policy calls for a hearing officer or a subcommittee of the university's senate to review any allegations against a student to determine whether the conduct code has been broken and to determine the appropriate action. Violations such as a burglary likely would be heard by the senate subcommittee, Riley said.

The timing of such a hearing depends on the people involved, Riley said. If they choose not to contest the allegations, a hearing could be held within the next three weeks. But a contested hearing would take longer, putting off a decision on discipline until early next year, he said.

All hearings and decisions on discipline are confidential, Riley said.

As for the players' probationary status with the team, the university's statement did not specify its terms. But probation in such a case would not be unusual, said Kent Brown, the athletic department's spokesman.

"Any time there is a problem with a player, that person would always be on some kind of probationary status," he said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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