Terrence Shannon Jr was fired today after been accused of sexual assault…

In his first public comments ahead of his June sexual assault trial, former Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. said Tuesday during the NBA draft combine that he understands the “serious” charges against him.

Shannon, once projected as a first-round pick, is being scrutinized as a potential NBA prospect, which could depend on the outcome of his June 10 trial for felony rape and felony aggravated sexual assault charges. Last year, a woman accused Shannon of sexually penetrating her with his fingers at a bar in Lawrence, Kansas.

Shannon was arrested, charged and suspended by Illinois amid a school investigation in December. After missing six games, however, Shannon received a temporary restraining order from a federal judge and returned to the court for the rest of the season. The school dropped its investigation in April.

“I’m looking forward to my day in court,” he said.

A Kansas judge decided last week at Shannon’s preliminary hearing that there is sufficient probable cause for Shannon to stand trial. Shannon entered a not guilty plea at the hearing.

On Tuesday, Shannon said he’s invested in the NBA draft process and the work attached to it. At the combine, Shannon added that he’s the best “two-way” player in the draft.

“Obviously, it’s a real serious accusation and I’m aware of that and I can’t go much into detail about it, but I’m just focused on what I can control and that’s basketball and what I do on the court, in the weight room, with my family,” he told WCIA in Champaign, Illinois.

The accuser in the case found Shannon through a Google search after the incident and then told local police, who then filed a warrant for Shannon’s arrest in December.

At the time, Shannon was a projected first-round pick in next month’s NBA draft. His lawyers said his June rape trial will conclude before the draft on June 26-27.

Before Shannon’s preliminary hearing last week, his attorneys requested that the DNA evidence in the case not be admissible in the trial. They also said, via statement, the judge ruling that the trial will move forward has no bearing on Shannon’s guilt or innocence in the case.

Shannon said he can’t control people’s opinions of him, as he faces serious charges. He also said he’s “fine” mentally.

“I feel like people are going to have their opinion of me no matter what,” Shannon said Tuesday. “No matter what you’re going through or if you’re not going through anything. You can’t let other people’s opinions affect you.”

And with the Power 5 conferences and NCAA board of governors voting Thursday to accept the settlement of three antitrust cases that create a new structure for the sport, the moment is layered in both historic change and looming ambiguity.

The more than $2.7 billion of back damages and a new revenue-sharing model that come with the settlement of House v. NCAA and two related antitrust cases mark a distinct pivot for college sports. Amateurism, long a fragile and fleeting notion in the billion-dollar college sports industry, is officially dead. College sports, long a fractured group of fiefdoms, came together in an attempt to save themselves, with the jarring sight of five power leagues and the NCAA together on a press release.

This is a necessary and important week for the business of college athletics, yet not a celebratory one for its leaders. It’s a promising day for future athletes who are being compensated with revenue sharing expected to be more than $20 million per school.

And it’s also a confusing week for the coaches and leaders on campus, who have no idea what the specific rules of engagement are moving forward.

There should be no trips to the chiropractor from self-congratulatory back pats for taking this step, as the business of college sports will remain messy. No one should be cheered for paying billions just to avoid paying additional billions.

The peace that NCAA and conference leaders hope they are purchasing with their billions in settlement money is seemingly tentative. While the settlement will make it harder for plaintiff attorneys to wield the threat of billion-dollar damages in the future, athletes will have options to keep challenging any restriction or cap on how they are paid. As the final yes votes were being collected this week, a separate federal case in Colorado — Fontenot v. NCAA — continued to march forward on its own track, leaving open the possibility that NCAA lawyers won’t have time to catch their breath before fighting the next battle on capping athlete compensation.

The games on the fields and arenas of college sports remain wonderful, the television ratings in college football and the NCAA tournament for men’s and women’s basketball are all gangbusters. And the NCAA, behind decisive leadership from president Charlie Baker, appears to have bought increased relevance in the coming years by finding enough consensus to avoid a catastrophic financial loss from yet another court decision going against it.

But the reality of the culmination of votes on Thursday, which still need the approval of Judge Claudia Wilken, is that college leaders took the best bad option. Pay billions now and share the revenue or, lawyers predicted, lose a series of lawsuits, declare bankruptcy and start over.

How we got here is simple. As college sports roared from regional passion to national obsession through the 1990s and this century, NCAA leaders and college presidents clung to a business model that didn’t pay the talent. (The coaches, not coincidentally, were compensated at significant levels because the players never commanded a salary.)

Just three years ago, the NCAA fought the notion of paying athletes a now-quaint $6,000 in academic-based awards all the way to the Supreme Court. So it’s hard to overstate just how drastic the tenor change is surrounding college sports.

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