Sinclair leads Illinois in tackles

Updated: October 21, 2004, 12:32 AM ET
Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Two University of Illinois football players will serve eight-day jail sentences when the season ends after pleading guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor battery charges stemming from a barroom brawl.

Linebacker Matt Sinclair, 22, and defensive tackle Ryan Matha, 21, were accused of tackling and punching Jamaal L. Applewhite of Champaign at a bar near campus this summer. The players had been charged with felony aggravated battery, but pleaded to lesser offenses.

"There was substantial mitigation," Champaign County State's Attorney John Piland said. "Certainly, factors explained some of the conduct."

A Champaign County judge sentenced Sinclair and Matha to eight days in the county jail, beginning Nov. 21 -- the day after the football season ends. They also were sentenced to one year conditional discharge and must attend substance abuse evaluations, Piland said.

Applewhite, 19 at the time of the assault, was charged with aggravated battery for allegedly hitting Sinclair on the head with a beer bottle. His court case is pending, Piland said.

Illini coach Ron Turner declined to comment.

Sinclair and Matha did not start Saturday's game against Michigan after starting the first six this season.

Sinclair, a 6-3, 245-pound senior, leads the Illini with 59 tackles and two sacks. Matha, a 6-3, 300-pound junior, has 23 tackles.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press