NCAA suspends Illinois star center Kofi Cockburn 3 games for selling apparel, memorabilia

The NCAA has suspended Illinois' star center KofiCockburn for the first three regular season games. He was accused of selling "institutionally-issued apparel and memorabilia" in June.
The Illinois name, image, and likeness legislation would have made the sales legal. However, it was illegal under NCAA rules because it occurred in June.

Cockburn will also be suspended. He will donate the proceeds of his sales to charity of his choosing.

Brad Underwood, the Illinois men's basketball coach, said he was disappointed by the NCAA's decision.

Underwood stated that the suspension of three games was disappointing because there were unusual factors and changed timelines in his decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft. After Kofi was fully informed about the draft situation, he made an educated decision that he would return to school to finish his degree and keep improving his game. We respect and understand the NCAA's decision and will continue to move forward. Kofi's positive outlook and attitude remain, as always, upbeat. Kofi is determined to help his teammates prepare for the season and we cannot wait to see him back on the court.

Cockburn, a Jamaican native of 7 feet, was named a preseason All-American after he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and second-team All-America honors. Cockburn was the dominant big man in the nation, scoring 17.7 points, 9.5 boards, and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 65.4%.

Cockburn had entered his name in the NBA draft after his last season, but withdrew and entered a transfer portal on July 1. Kentucky was initially the favorite because of his commitment. However, Cockburn declared two weeks later that he would be returning to Champaign for the junior season.

Illinois, ranked No. Preseason AP poll ranked Illinois No. 11. It opens its season against Jackson State Nov. 9. Cockburn will not be able to attend the opening game, along with games against Arkansas State or at Marquette. Cockburn will be back for the Fighting Illini's match against Cincinnati on Nov. 22.