Updated: UI football official facing gun charges

Updated: UI football official facing gun charges

Update at 4:50 p.m. Monday.

CHAMPAIGN — In a statement on Monday, Fighting Illini head football coach Tim Beckman said a football staff member's actions were clear lapse in judgment, but the team is still gathering information.

“We’re aware of the current situation concerning staff member Matt Sinclair,” Beckman said. “He clearly had a lapse in judgment after returning to Champaign-Urbana on Saturday. He is in the early stages of the legal process. We’re still gathering all the information about the incident and I don’t intend to comment further at this time.”

Original story, posted at 1:26 p.m. Monday.

URBANA — The assistant director of player personnel and relations for the University of Illinois football team was arraigned in Champaign County court Monday after allegedly pointing an unloaded gun at another vehicle on Interstate 74.

Matthew Sinclair, 31, played linebacker for the Illini from 2001 to 2004 and was hired earlier this year as a football staff member. According to a police report, he was arrested around 4 p.m. Saturday after a driver behind Sinclair saw him point the gun out the window. The witness called 911.

Police pulled over Sinclair near Green Street after he exited at Lincoln Avenue, according to the report, and found an unloaded gun in the center console of his pickup truck, a magazine loaded with 16 rounds of ammunition in the driver's side door pocket and a set of brass knuckles.

When reached Monday afternoon, Sinclair declined comment.

Sinclair, who was returning from Purdue University after Saturday's football game, told police he had the gun with him for protection.

"He said he had the gun because he was going to Purdue and needed it for protection," said Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

Rietz said other staff members from the team were in the car beside Sinclair's at which he allegedly pointed the gun. Sinclair admitted pointing the gun out the window at the other vehicle was a joke, according to the report.

Sinclair has been charged with three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon for possessing an unloaded, uncased gun accessible to ammunition, that he did not have a valid concealed carry permit and that he used the gun in the commission of a misdemeanor. Those charges are Class 4 felonies punishable by one to three years in prison.

He has also been charged with a misdemeanor for possession of the brass knuckles.

In 2004, while he was a player on the football team, Sinclair pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery after he tackled and punched a man following a fight at Joe's Brewery.

According to a FightingIllini.com press release from April when Sinclair was hired, his duties include coordinating former player events, assisting with on-campus recruiting, coordinating the annual Illinois high school coaching clinic and coordinating all functions with the student section, fraternities and sororities.


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Bulldogmojo wrote on November 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

"He said he had the gun because he was going to Purdue and needed it for protection"

And who is supposed to protect the people at Purdue from this guy? Was he aware Purdue does not allow firearms on campus? Did he have it on our campus at any time?

This is the kind of wrecklessness we are in for with the expansion of gun "rights" in Illinois. The attitude of "it's my gun and I'll wave it at anyone I want to"

They need to send this guy in for the full sentence.

Joe American wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

And not allowing guns on campus means exactly what?

Do yo think that prevets people from bringing guns to campus?


QCTim wrote on November 25, 2013 at 7:11 pm


Blaming this on Illinois finally recognizing the rights of people to carry is flawed in many ways.  First the right to carry is not in place yet so this person is breaking current firearm transportation laws in Illinois.  His gun was not in a case and he did not have a conceal carry permit because it is not yet available.  Second, if he in fact was waiving a gun about it is Illegal to do this, EVEN if you have a concealed carry permit.  Its called Brandishing a weapon and is illegal in most if not all juistictions.  I believe in Illinois it can get you an assault charge for brandishing a weapon.  And if you have a concealed carry permit behaovior like that is the quickest way to lose it. 

Gun control groups always make up stories about gun owners waiving guns around and turning things into the wild west as a result of removing restriction to peoples right to own and possess firearms.....however, just look at the states that have had right to carry laws for years....these fairy tails don't come true.



wolfe wrote on November 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

No.  This is the type of idiot that gives the lawful, responsible and legal gun owners

a bad name.

Bulldogmojo wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Well of course he is not representative of law abiding gun owners who by their very definition are law abiding, nevertheless here he is a public figure and public employee who obviously has no regard for the lives around him. He would have carried that gun onto Purdue campus and has probably been walking around this campus with that gun in a duffle bag.  The only requirement to own a gun is to prove you haven't been convicted of a crime or adjudicated mentally defective...YET

Any rube can get a gun. It doesn't speak to your character that you can get a FOID card The laws related to access to guns and bounderies of uses in public are getting looser all the time and it's not to keep you safer just to keep the gun lobby and its manufacturers in the black.

Hubris and guns are a lethal combination...obviously

ChiefIlliniFan wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Is this about the gun, or the fact that you lost the football game. Obviously you are on here looking for comments about Purdue losing.

As hysterical as you sound, hopefully you do not own a gun.

Either way good luck with your football program in the future.

Bulldogmojo wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I could care less about the football program, what I do care about is coming to work on this campus everyday and NOT getting shot by a creep who thinks he is above the law. I'm sure the Purdue campus police are glad he didn't make it there.

Your indifference is part of the problem.

ChiefIlliniFan wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Was merely commenting that if you think the only thing that can happen to you on campus is getting shot, well, that is ridiculous. Just the other day a teddy bear was found in the middle of a road with a bomb in it. Apparently they were hoping that a child would pick it up and it would blow up. No guns involved. My point is with or without guns people are the ones who hurt and do things to other people, a gun will not make any difference. It is people.

My wife went to Purdue and does not remember anybody ever being shot there. For the record I shoot competitively, and do not know of anyone who condones this kind of thing. She said that she does remember a stabbing so you better watch out for someone with a knife.

Bulldogmojo wrote on November 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

First of all I am a gun owner. I do not believe in concealed carry and certainly not in open carry which is becoming an alarming trend in some states as some sort of tea party protest for the seond amendment which the last time I checked is still in place. Like I said this is hubris+guns=danger to the public. We should be alarmed at this kind of thing. After all the U of I and every campus in the country including community colleges has an "Active shooter" emergency alert system for a reason. No one took a hard look into the Virginia Tech shooter until it was all too late.

I'm relieved we haven't had an incident like that here and relieved Purdue hasn't either but keep in mind James Holmes looked real law abiding on paper until he left his apartment that night for the midnight movie in Aurora. Those may be historical details but they are details that need to guide our decisions on who has guns and how they are to be used. As the D.C. vs Heller SCOTUS opinion states...

"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

There i've said my bit about it now all the "tyranny" crowd can have at my post...


ChiefIlliniFan wrote on November 26, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Do not think there is a "tyranny" crowd, and I understand what you are trying to say. If there was a way to predict who would do what and when, we could all lead perfect lives. However, that has not been discovered yet, mostly the thinking is to control everyone under a thumb mentality, which just leads to more problems, not less.

In the end it is still people, it is people that make a choice to harm another person, by whatever means.

sweet caroline wrote on November 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Wolfe is correct.  This guy's a loose cannon.  Most legitimate gun owners wouldn't even think of doing something so stupid and dangerous.  He's obviously not a legitimate gun owner, so don't lump him in with lawful gun owners. 

Alexander wrote on November 26, 2013 at 7:11 am

Like Bulldomojo's comment, this is the "the is the `good guy' before he became a `bad guy' argument" -- yes, he can be lumped in with `legitimate' gun owners, because he was one just before he became not one.

Trailmom wrote on November 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Agree.   A trained, intelligent gun owner would not carry their gun like that.  And anyone with any common sense would know to NEVER point a gun unless you intend to use it.  That means it is NEVER pointed as a "joke".

This is not an example of responsible gun ownership.   This is why people want laws, because there are idiots like this out there.  And clearly gun laws are not stopping him from doing this kind of thing.

highspeed wrote on November 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

First off he is an idiot. Transporting in the console unloaded is legal, with a valid FOID. Article says he didnt have conceal carry permit. You only need a valid FOID to tranport. Sticking an unloaded gun out the window and pointing it at someone is idiotic and stupid!!! 

Beem wrote on November 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Typical macho football-type locker room stuff that is also being exposed with the Miami Dolphins/Richie Incognito situation. Also reminds me of the football players that celebrate and “act bad” after a big tackle they make while the team is down by 30 points . . . Illini coaches all giddy and acting a fool after the big win over Purdue.

IlliniMike05 wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Just so I'm clear, you're equating the pointing a deadly weapon at another driver to a football players and coaches celebrating making a good play, or winning a game? Are you really trying to make the case those two things have....any sort of connection at all?

I'd love to hear more.

thesimpleman wrote on November 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

illini and guns go figure.


IlliniMike05 wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

You can't just say "go figure" as if those two things are known for how interconnected they are. So, please, tell us more.


bartledoo217 wrote on November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

As usual, A story about an idiot getting mad at another idiot for doing something only a idiot could accomplish in the first place.

proud prof wrote on November 25, 2013 at 6:11 pm

His salary, by the way - $80,000

arch73 wrote on November 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Such a class act from a member of the football staff.


Local Yocal wrote on November 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm
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If memory serves right, this is the same guy that caught someone dancing with his girl at Joe's Brewery, chased him down a block and knocked out his front teeth. In 2004, he was allowed to plead it down to a Class A misdemeanor of battery, (instead of the class 3 felony originally charged) and given 12 months probation with allowance to leave the state to play in a bowl game. Glad to see he's grown up....none. Will he be treated as a "repeat offender" or will he get the U of I Athlete Special where once again, his temper problems will be swept under the rug as a "youthful indiscretion?"

Maybe the Washington Redskins will take him back.

ohnooo wrote on November 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Prosecute,  then fire him !

Beem wrote on November 26, 2013 at 12:11 am

Illinimike, if you read the story, you saw that he pointed the (unloaded) gun at another car full of Illini coaches as a joke on the way back from the Purdue game. So, what I'm saying is that it was just a bunch of macho football-types messing around, which seems to be the norm in this alpha male world as is being explained by the nfl players talking about the Incognito case. In this case, these coaches were giddy after finally winning a game against Purdue, apparently forgetting how bad they've actually been this year. And haven't you watched a game where a team is down by 30 points in the 4th quarter, and a player on the losing team makes a big play and dances around like he's the king of the world? Needs to lose his job and I have a feeling Beckman and Thomas will make sure he does. They don't have time to deal with this kind of stuff.

palmtree wrote on November 26, 2013 at 5:11 am

Big 10 thug.  Go Illini.

Local Yocal wrote on November 26, 2013 at 7:11 am
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This "thuggish" type of behavior is norm for the football team, and legend around campus is that groups of football players often "party" in this fashion, where it is common for players to beat up people at various parties in an alcohol-fueled rage/form of entertainment. In fact, blue-chip athletes are often given an "open tab" at the campus bars in order to attract more customers as the "in-place" to be. (Just how did church-raised, underaged Jamar Smith become an alcoholic upon arrival onto this campus?) Not surprising one of their coaches/staff has not grown out of the priviledged athlete mentality that puts them above the law and having to earn a real degree. Brass knuckles? What part of his job as a coordinator of recruits for frat and sorority parties requires a set of brass knuckles? (Yes, that certainly deserves $80,000 a year) To show a recruit how to properly knock someone's teeth out?

Whatever fierceness the State's Attorney shows now is but window-dressing to pretend she plays no favoritism, but after we have all forgotten about this, a quiet little plea deal will be arranged for good 'ol boy, Matt: A little more probation, a little fine he can easily afford, and a plea to the public to understand we all have "lapses in judgement." It was just a joke afterall.

Clear Conscience wrote on November 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

Do you know what I think is really pathetic???

Everyone seems to be SOOOOO upset that this COACH (BIG photo of a white guy)  is SOOO dangerous b/c he might have had a gun on campus. I have no real, major disagreement there. BUT...

I just pulled up the Friday NG article where two (No description given in NG) black guys (crime alert info) WITH GUNS threatened to KILL a STUDENT near campus during an armed robbery AGAIN!!!! Then 2 more robbed a student after leaving Joe's Brewery.  (How many umteen does that make for they year?)


Where is the outrage??? What's wrong, too afraid to offend more potential astronauts who were kicked out of the READY Program?

The fake hue and cry, smothered in political correctness, used to slam concealed carry laws is a bunch of BS. If everyone on this post was truly upset about gun crimes, they should decry ALL of them.

My .02 worth.


Bulldogmojo wrote on November 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

Clear Conscience... an excellent point 

GenevaBlueDevil wrote on November 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

Does Champaign County usually cover people in sheets or does the perp have on an Illini shirt with a big block I and the police went out of their way to cover up his connection to the university?

Local Yocal wrote on November 26, 2013 at 11:11 am
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"Where is the outrage??? What's wrong, too afraid to offend more potential astronauts who were kicked out of the READY Program?"

There is no need for outrage other than for the crimes themselves, (which can be commented about how(?) since it has become an almost monthly occurrance- and the reason the law-abiding want conceal and carry)... for we know those black guys will definitely get theirs when caught. The legal system, however, goes into an entirely different mode when star athletes like Sinclair here gets caught. It's likely Sinclair will get the traditional light slap on the wrist afforded the priviledged.

As for 15 year-old, unarmed Kiwane Carrington, surely your conscience is not clear that he deserved to get shot dead within 8 seconds because he was a poor student?

As for booking photos, it's been policy for the last _(?)_ years to blanket everyone who is booked into the county jail. It has nothing to do with covering his affiliation with the U of I, and frankly, it's surprising this story made a headline. In the past, it was left to The Chicago Sun-Times to break the Luther Head burglary story in 2004 while local media accepted Bruce Weber's three game suspension of Luther as "in-house discipline."  

bandwagonfan24 wrote on November 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Local Yocal-

Kiwane Carrington was shot dead because he attacked and fought an armed officer of the law. Not because he was a poor student. Just sayin'.....

Local Yocal wrote on November 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm
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@bandwagonfan24- With all due respect, I seriously doubt it.

Just sayin' as one who's read and listened to everything there ever was released to the public about that case.

Moonpie wrote on November 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Maybe Sinclair and George Zimmerman can pool all their guns and form an army of wingnuts who are too immature to be allowed to carry weapons. Has the NRA showed up to defend this idiot yet? Has Wayne La Pierrre ariived yet to claim this guy could prevent another Sandy Hook and that taking Sinclair's gun is a Muslim Kenyan plot by the president to impose socialism and help gays ruin heterosexual marriages? Ha!! Can't wait for the uniquely twisted take on this we can expect from Sir Tate Legend. Matt Daniels will no doubt blame Sinclair's woes on Cliff Alexander's girlfriend and Chicago, and the other dumb reasons he gve when Alexander chose Kansas. The Sleepy Gazoo will run a column and somehow manage to mention Bruce Pearl, Eric Gordon, Bob Knight. Let the wingnut parade begin.

Local Yocal wrote on November 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm
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@Clear Conscience: Another reason to withhold comment on these crime stories is  what The News-Gazette is given to publish by the police publicity department is not necessarily so, case in point:


We may be unnecessarily piling on before a trial here on poor Matt Sinclair, but that doesn't stop The News-Gazette from encouraging it and us taking the bait.