Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction For Terrence Shannon Jr.

January 19, 2024

Breaking news this afternoon...

A federal court judge has granted Terrence Shannon Jr.'s request for a preliminary injunction, meaning the all-Big Ten guard's suspension by the University of Illinois athletic department is lifted immediately, allowing him to resume team activities and appear in games.

On January 19, 2024, the Honorable Colleen R. Lawless of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois granted in part and denied in part Terrence Shannon's motion for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and expedited discovery.

Judge Lawless denied Shannon's request for injunctive relief under Title IX, but found that Shannon "has established that he has clearly ascertainable rights that need protection and there is some likelihood of success on the merits" under Count IV of his Complaint. The preliminary injunction order provides that the University of Illinois is "enjoined from suspending [Shannon] from the basketball team without at least affording him the protections of the OSCR Policy" of the university's Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

Summary of Court's Decision

1. Shannon's Title IX Claim: Denied.

There is no dispute that the trip to Lawrence was initiated by Plaintiff and was purely for personal or social reasons. Plaintiff was encouraged by Geoff Alexander and other basketball coaches not to make the trip to Lawrence, given the short timeframe and long distance. Plaintiff’s December 29, 2023, account of the trip describes an entirely social experience with his “roommates,” going “out in Lawrence with some friends,” and going to “the Jayhawk Café for the evening with a group of friends.” While there is some dispute about the frequency of contact between the assistant coaches and Hobson, it is apparent that any communication from the coaches was out of concern for the safety of their players.​

While Hobson is employed as a graduate assistant, he is also Plaintiff’s roommate who did not seek compensation and was not reimbursed for the trip as an employee of the University. There was no University program or activity at the Jayhawk Café at any time during the trip to and from Lawrence. The coaches’ request for Hobson to drive Plaintiff and Harmon on the lengthy trip for safety reasons is simply not enough to convert a personal and social trip into a University education program or activity as defined by Title IX.​

Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes Plaintiff has not established the requisite likelihood of success on the merits of his Title IX claim.​

2. Private Right of Action under Title IX: Denied.

Because Plaintiff has not alleged he was discriminated against on the basis of gender and it is at least questionable such a claim would be viable, Plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on the merits of his Title IX claim in Count I.​

3. Procedural Due Process: Granted

The sensible reading of this means that the OSCR policy—which outlines the University’s regulations for handling allegations of student sexual misconduct—would apply prior to the DIA’s interim suspension.​​

Terms of the Preliminary Injunction Order

Defendant, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, and all of its officers (including, but not limited to, Defendant Timothy Killeen), administration, employees, units, divisions, affiliates, and other agents, are hereby enjoined from continuing to suspend Plaintiff from the basketball team pursuant to the DIA Policy.​

Defendants are enjoined from suspending Plaintiff from the basketball team without at least affording him the protections of the OSCR Policy.​

The obligations of Defendants pursuant to this Order are to be construed as broadly as possible.​

This Order shall remain in effect until modified or terminated by a subsequent order.​

Our Quick Take

A. This ruling grants a preliminary injunction for Shannon. Unlike a temporary restraining order (TRO), which has a limited duration of 14 to 28 days, this injunction order has no specific temporal term.

B. The university must conduct a more detailed and time-consuming disciplinary review process under the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) procedures before suspending Shannon again.​

C. Shannon's other arguments on Title IX and other issues are rejected by the district judge.

D. The university has the right to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. It is not known at this time whether the university will pursue that course of action.​

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