Memo links two more athletes to bar incident

By Sky Opila and Katie O'Connell

Two more Illinois football players have been tied to an incident that led to the suspension of three teammates, according to a memo sent by Chancellor Richard Herman.

The memo, obtained by The Daily Illini from a source, was sent via President B. Joseph White to the Board of Trustees on Friday and stated that Mike Locksley Jr., a freshman from Champaign, and Ian Thomas, a freshman from Maryland, were at the scene, in addition to three other players as reported by The Daily Illini last week. The memo stated that police reviewed tape during their investigation and identified these two additional football players.

“I only know about this by what I read in the newspaper,” White said in an interview on Tuesday when questioned about the involvement of other players. “I have nothing to add beyond what has been reported in the newspapers.”

A Daily Illini reporter attempted to reach Herman and was referred to Kent Brown, assistant athletics director, but was unable to speak with the chancellor himself.

At 1:56 a.m. on Oct. 18, three Illinois football players were issued notices to appear in court stemming from an incident outside of C.O. Daniel’s, 608 E. Daniel St.

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According to a press release from the Champaign Police Department, Daryle Ballew and Brian Gamble, both 18-year-old freshmen from Ohio, were issued notices to appear in court for being present in a liquor establishment, violating a city ordinance that requires a patron to be 19 years of age to enter a bar in Campustown. Mark Jackson, a 19-year-old freshman from Ohio, was issued a notice to appear in court for purchasing and possessing alcohol as a minor and, after further investigation, was later issued a notice to appear in court for resisting and obstructing an officer. The Champaign Police Department could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts over a three-day period.

The notices were issued following police response to a fight outside of the bar. Bar management declined to comment on Thursday’s incident.

Chime Asonye, student trustee, confirmed that the memo was sent out to the trustees but would not elaborate on its contents.

The memo also stated that a victim of the fight was advised to seek medical assistance and did so at a local hospital. It is unclear whether the victim was a University student.

Brown confirmed that sending the memo was standard operating procedure.

“If the chancellor feels that there is information that the Board of Trustees or the president may want to know, so that they’re not caught off guard by some information, then it’s passed on,” Brown said. “I think that may have to be the case with any situation involving maybe any student on campus if there were an incident of some kind.”

According to the police department’s release, officers responded to a call of a large fight. Upon arrival to the scene, three subjects were pointed out to police as being involved in the fight. All three subjects fled the scene and were pursued on foot.

A short time later, Ballew, Gamble and Jackson were stopped because they matched the description of the subjects involved in the fight.

Officers found probable cause to issue ordinances to all three men, but none had been positively identified as suspects involved in the fight and were released at the scene. According to the summary heading of the police report, the suspects were issued city notices to appear in court for fighting; however, the report later states that the only notices issued were the four given to Ballew, Gamble and Jackson.

All three were suspended from Saturday night’s home game against Michigan.

“(Athletic Director Ron) Guenther and (Coach Ron) Zook are both very comfortable with the discipline that has been served by the players in question,” Brown said.

In Zook’s weekly press conference on Tuesday, he told The Daily Illini that no further action is expected to take place with the players.

“Not right now, no,” Zook said. “Right now everything’s fine.”

This occurrence follows several incidents involving Illinois athletes, including former football players Jody Ellis and Derrick McPhearson, both of whom are facing charges of theft and residential burglary related to an arrest on March 2.

However, Brown said he does not believe this is a trend among Illinois athletes.

“You can go to any campus in America and find incidents that happen, whether it’s student-athletes or students,” Brown said.

White said he is confident that this situation has been handled correctly.

“I am depending, as I always do, on Coach Zook … and Ron Guenther to ensure that we have a high-quality, high-integrity athletic program,” White said. “And that expectation extends to Coach Zook’s handling of this matter in the way that he believes is proper.”