UPDATE: Suspended football player still student

By Steve Contorno

Suspended football player Erique Robertson, 19, remains a student at the University, Dean of Students William L. Riley said Monday afternoon.

The Office of Conflict Resolution will review Robertson’s case before the Urbana-Champaign Senate Subcommittee on Undergraduate Student Conduct will decide if punishment by the University is necessary, Riley said.

According to a Champaign Police report, Robertson has been charged with unlawful use of weapons, reckless discharge of a firearm, not having the proper identification for a firearm and obstructing justice. Robertson’s charges stem from an incident early Sunday morning when officers responded to shots being fired at the 200 block of West Clark Street near Ellusions Bar.

After arriving on the scene, officers observed a subject shooting a handgun. According to the report, officers needed to use force to obtain the suspect. Three other offenders were listed on the report, but only Robertson was arrested. It was unclear which suspect the police used force on.

Head coach Ron Zook announced Sunday that Robertson, a freshman linebacker, has been suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules.

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“There is a certain conduct that members of our team will adhere to,” Zook said in a statement. “When our players don’t behave in that way, there will be consequences. We will continue to closely evaluate Erique’s situation.”

Associate Sports Information Director Cassie Arner said she could not specify what rule had been broken, only that Robertson was suspended and the team didn’t know when he would be back.

Riley suspected Zook would act quickly in determining what, if any, further actions would be taken against Robertson, but Zook’s decision would be in accordance with the policy of the Intercollegiate Athletic Department and not the University. Last March, Zook took just several days to dismiss Jody Ellis and Derrick McPhearson from the football team after initially suspending them. The two had been charged with four counts of residential burglary and two counts of theft.

With signing day approaching, Arner said Monday that Zook was out of town recruiting and didn’t know if he and Riley had spoken about the incident. She did expect, however, that Zook would take action if necessary.

“Knowing coach, he is very strong on discipline if it is warranted,” Arner said. “With a lot of details circulating they need to make sure they get all the facts before making a decision. But, coach is huge on discipline, and if it warrants it, he will decide if action needs to be taken.”

Riley said Robertson’s case was being reviewed by three separate bodies – the criminal court system, the University and the athletic department – and each could determine a different punishment if they deem it necessary.

The University will review whether or not Robertson had the weapon on University property, an offense Riley said could be punishable by any number of actions, including removal from the University.

It was uncertain whether other Illinois football players or students were involved.

“At this point, only one player is being disciplined and it looks like that is the way it’ll be,” Arner said.

Robertson, from Maple Heights, Ohio, joined the Illini for the spring 2007 semester along with standout freshman Arrelious Benn, forgoing the final semester of his senior year of high school. He joined the program as a three-star recruit and was ranked as Scout.com’s 24th best weakside linebacker in the 2007 class. During the 2007-08 season, Robertson played in seven games and made three tackles.