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CHONGQING, China — He used to be a linebacker for the Ball State Cardinals, now he’s been sentenced to four years in prison on assault charges in China.

He was tried last year in July, but the verdict was just announced Wednesday. 

In 2016 Wendall Brown was helping coach the Chongqing Dockers and teaching American football in China when he got into the bar fight that landed him in jail.

Brown was accused of punching another man in the face after the man threw a glass bottle at him. The American Football International Review said that “according to witnesses, [Brown&#93 was provoked by a group of locals who were upset that [he&#93 would not party with them.” They added that after the bottle was thrown Brown acted in self-defense.

According to the Muncie Star Press, Brown has been detained in China for the last 20 months. They said it’s unclear whether Brown will serve his sentence in China. 

However, Matt Liston, a Ball State graduate, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that Brown’s family and friends have been pushing the case forward, and now that the case is more high profile he announced, “the Chinese government and the United States government have been working together on the case.”

The Dui Hau Foundation, a non-profit based in San Francisco, which seeks clemency and better treatment for detained foreigners in China, has also been working with the Chinese government on Brown’s behalf said The Star Press. 

Liston also said Brown has stayed spiritually strong during his time in Chinese prison. 

He said, “I think a lot of that comes from his mother, who is the heart and soul of this campaign, and she’s his eyes and ears.” 

Liston believes Wendall Brown will come home.

(Photo by Michael Hickey/GettyImages)