NCAA Hearings Recess, No Decision on Illinois

From Associated Press

After nearly 12 hours of hearings, NCAA officials recessed without dismissing any recruiting violations charges against the University of Illinois' basketball program, an attorney involved in the case said.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions began hearings Sunday on allegations that Illini assistant basketball coach Jimmy Collins offered cash and cars to two prep school stars.

If the charges are upheld, the school's basketball program could be essentially shut down for a year. The committee is expected to take 10 days to five weeks to issue its final ruling.

It is the first hearing before the NCAA's infractions committee in three years that has lasted longer than one day, committee members said. The infractions committee is scheduled today to take up the allegations involving LaPhonso Ellis, who now attends Notre Dame.

Although no charges were dropped, the hearings were cordial and no tempers flared, said attorney Steven Beckett. Beckett is representing Illinois basketball player Deon Thomas.

"There was no yelling or screaming--nothing like that," Beckett said. "It was very long and very thorough."

The NCAA alleges that Collins offered Thomas $80,000 and a car to encourage him to attend Illinois. Thomas appeared visibly strained during recesses Sunday but said afterward he was comfortable with the proceedings.

"I think the whole thing went well," Thomas said. "I feel good. There's a sigh of relief that it's over, or at least the initial part of it.

"I feel they were fair and they'll make the right decision," he said. "I hope I'm able to continue playing at Illinois and I can go on with my basketball career as well as my education."

Collins is also accused of offering Ellis a car and cash, NCAA officials contend.

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