Report: Minnesota football team threatening to boycott bowl game
On Dec. 27, Minnesota (8-4) is slated to square off versus Washington State (8-4) in the National Funding Holiday Bowl.
“Slated” is the operative word in this scenario. Based upon the current state of the football program, there’s no guarantee this contest will take place.
The Minnesota football team is currently boycotting any football-related activities — including practice and bowl-related minutiae. This is in response to an on-going alleged sexual assault investigation involving 10 members of the football team:
Statement coming. All players here in jerseys. pic.twitter.com/NMUIjHzt02
— JoeChristensen (@JoeCStrib) December 16, 2016
The Star Tribune chronicled the entire ordeal dating back to this past September. 10 players were suspended on Wednesday over an alleged incident on Sept. 2. Five of the players in question are facing expulsion from the university. Four are facing a one-year suspension, and another is in line for probation.
This new investigation is said to have been engineered by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. This is completely separate from the initial inquiry.
None of the players in the initial criminal investigation were arrested. Prosecutors decided not to press charges, and thus the players returned to the team.
Breaking News: @GopherFootball players announce they are boycotting all football activity until suspensions of 10 players are lifted.
— Bill Lunn (@BillLunnKSTP) December 16, 2016
Head coach Tracy Claeys — with the support of university President Eric Kaler and Athletic Director Mark Coyle — suspended the 10 players (Tamarion Johnson, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams, Seth Green, Antoine Winfield Jr., Ray Buford, Antonio Shenault, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, and Dior Johnson) for the bowl game.
Kaler issued this statement:
“The need to take actions like this is incredibly disappointing. Unfortunately, these types of situations are difficult for the University because we are limited in what we can say. While we strive to be transparent in all that we do, the fact is that, under the law, our students have privacy rights that we value and respect.”
The response to this ruling has been quite strong:
Minnesota's football players want to meet with regents without AD Coyle and U President Kaler present. They're boycott all team activities.
— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) December 16, 2016
Former NFL star defensive back Antoine Winfield Sr. — the father of one the suspended players — said his son would not remain with the team unless a change in leadership occurs:
Antoine Winfield Sr. just said his son won't stay at Minnesota if President Kaler and Mark Coyle remain in their jobs.
— chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) December 16, 2016
Lastly, leading receiver Drew Wolitarsky offered this strong statement. It was clearly aimed at the administration:
Here is the complete statement from the #Gophers football players. It was read by senior WR Drew Wolitarsky: pic.twitter.com/QdNo4bzCGO
— Daniel House (@DanielHouseNFL) December 16, 2016
Despite initiating the suspensions, Claeys tweeted this message out:
Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world! 〽️?
— GoldenGopherHFC (@GoldenGopherHFC) December 16, 2016