CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois football player Jarrod ''Chunky'' Clements has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery stemming from a fight at a party in March and has entered a program that could see the charge reduced or dropped, authorities said Monday.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Clements was accused of punching another man on March 4, Clements' attorney, Evan Bruno, said. Clements was charged April 28 and entered a plea June 3. The reason for the delay between the incident and the charge was not immediately clear.
Clements, a senior defensive lineman, was placed in a program that allows those accused of lower-level crimes to perform community service and have charges reduced or dropped, Champaign County lead prosecutor Troy Lozar said.
Clements was given 20 hours of community service.
Illinois coach Lovie Smith said in a statement he was aware of the charge against Clements.
''I am disappointed in Jarrod's actions. He has already begun working toward fulfilling the community service hours that were assigned to him by the court,'' said Smith, who was hired in March. ''We will reinforce to Jarrod the expectations we have of him as a student-athlete.''
Clements will not be suspended, Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said.
Clements is one of several Illinois athletes to face charges this year.
Three of them Kendrick Nunn, Leron Black and Jaylon Tate were basketball players.
Nunn was kicked off the basketball team last month after pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic battery after being accused of striking a woman. He was sentenced to probation.
A similar charge against Tate was dropped and he was reinstated to the team. Black pleaded guilty to misdemeanor aggravated assault for threatening a bar bouncer with a knife and was sentenced on April 21 to probation.
In March, softball player Ruby Fernandez-Rivera, entered the same ''second-chance'' program that Clements is now part of after pleading not guilty to criminal damage of property after a large outdoor menorah was broken at a campus Jewish center.