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Illinois fans frustrated over recent NCAA charges

Some University of Illinois basketball fans are frustrated, others are sticking with their team, and some expect the worst _ the "death penalty" for the Illini following NCAA allegations of recruiting violations. "This is extremely disappointing," said Tim Wayne, president of the Student Government Association at the Champaign-Urbana campus. "The last few years the way that Illinois has been under the thumb of the NCAA, it becomes really frustrating to be a student here and a sports fan."

The university on Friday received a letter from the NCAA, asking for a reply to charges of 11 recruiting violations. The most serious was an alleged offer of $80,000 and a car to a recruit, apparently Illini freshman Deon Thomas. He and school officials have denied the allegation.

The "death penalty" would mean loss of its intercollegiate basketball program for at least two years.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we got shut down, with the social climate being what it is regarding athletics," said Paul Swider, 26, a UI student. "We're talking major cash payments here."

Illinois was ranked 15th nationally before Saturday's 70-63 loss at Michigan State.