Illinois starting linebacker Jonathan Brown has been suspended by the university for kneeing a Northwestern player in the groin Saturday, the school announced Monday. He will miss Saturday's game at Indiana.
We are extremely disappointed by what happened on Saturday and Jonathan knows that, Illinois head coach Ron Zook said in a statement Monday. We don't condone that type of behavior in our program.
I've talked to Jonathan and he understands that. He is a good person, a spiritual person, and no one feels worse about it than him. But he got caught up in the moment, made a serious mistake and must deal with the consequences.
Brown ranks second on the No. 19 Illini with 30 tackles through the team's first five games.
Illinois has moved up the rankings with a 5-0 start, and Brown has become a major part of that ascension. He has six tackles for loss on the season and two sacks and was named the Big Ten's defensive player of the week after their Sept. 17 victory over then-No. 22 Arizona State.
Brown also issued an apology via a statement.
I apologize to my family, my teammates and the Illinois fans for letting them down, he said in the statement. I also would like to apologize to the Northwestern team for my actions. What I did was out of character and won't happen again.
The incident occurred in the first half of Illinois' 38-35 win, when Northwestern lineman Patrick Ward tussled with Illinois defensive back Terry Hawthorne well after a play was over. Brown walked over and kneed Ward in the groin, prompting Ward to fall to the ground in pain.
Brown was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but was not ejected from the game.