Illini lineman arrested in possible hate crime

July 5, 2011

The Associated Press

(AP photo)
An Illinois football player arrested for a possible hate crime.

An Illinois football player arrested in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime has a previous felony conviction for cocaine possession.

Champaign police say they arrested 20-year-old defensive lineman Chris Jones on Sunday on a preliminary aggravated battery charge after two men reported he punched them outside a bar. The men said Jones was in a car whose occupants shouted anti-homosexual insults at them.

University spokesman Kent Brown said Jones has been suspended. Jones hasn't entered plea and has not responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press. 

Jones is a 310-pound freshman from Jacksonville, Fla. Duval County, Fla., records show Jones pleaded guilty in July 2010 to cocaine possession and was sentenced to 60 days probation. 

Brown said coach Ron Zook is aware of that conviction.