Chinese court hands US football coach 4-year prison sentence

Wendell Brown, Trey Buice
The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced former Ball State football player Wendell Brown to four years in prison for his involvement in a September 2016 bar fight, a lawyer for the Detroit native said.

Brown had been teaching American football in southwest China when he was arrested. He has denied hitting a man at a bar and said he raised his arms in self-defense after being attacked.

Brown’s lawyer Wu Junmei said a judge in the city of Chongqing issued the sentence after a brief hearing.

China sometimes deports foreigners following their conviction. Wu said it is unclear whether Brown will have to serve his full term. He has already spent 20 months in detention while awaiting the verdict and plans to appeal.

Brown’s supporters say the White House has raised the case with China.

Brown, 31, played linebacker for Ball State between 2004 and 2007 and went on to play in the Canadian Football League before moving to China to coach.