The Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen is reporting that the Minnesota Golden Gopher football team boycotted today’s practice and held a players-only meeting, where they decided to boycott the Holiday Bowl in protest of 10 players being suspended.
Sources say #Gophers football players threatening to boycott bowl game to protest 10 suspended teammates: https://t.co/YROFfH3lqZ— JoeChristensen (@JoeCStrib) December 15, 2016
After coming to their decision, the players reportedly brought in head football coach Tracy Claeys to inform him of their intentions. The players are expected to meet with media members tonight to announce their plans and state the conditions the university would need to meet in order to avoid a boycott of the Holiday Bowl.
This comes after several Gopher football players sent out Tweets earlier today using the hashtag #WeHadEnough, expressing their displeasure with the university’s decision to indefinitely suspend 10 of their teammates. The suspensions followed the conclusion of a Title IX investigation into an incident that took place on the night of Sept. 2 and led to sexual assault allegations being made against four Gopher players. The Title IX investigation concluded with five players being recommended for expulsion, four for one-year suspensions, and one for one-year of probation.
UPDATE: The players, led by senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky, gathered on the field at the indoor practice facility and addressed the media with a prepared statement. Effectively immediately, the players are boycotting all team activities, citing a need to re-claim the “integrity and reputation” of the program and to protest the “unjust” treatment of their teammates, whom they believe have been denied “due process.”
The team is requesting a closed door meeting with the Board of Regents, and have asked that athletic director Mark Coyle and university president Eric Kaler not be present. The team’s statement specifically took issue with “misleading statements” Coyle allegedly made when addressing the team earlier this week. Wolitarsky said the players received “no answers” when they asked Coyle for an explanation.
Wolitarsky also said he does not believe Claeys was involved in the decision to suspend the players. He believes that Coyle alone made that call.
The players also said the boycott will remain in place until all ten suspensions have been lifted. They’ve asked that the university not “retaliate” against the players, coaches, and fans in response to the boycott.
You can view the full statement here.
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
Coyle and Kaler released a joint statement following the players’ announcement:
Statement from Minnesota president Eric Kaler and AD Mark Coyle about team boycott pic.twitter.com/5JLWAvhFmT— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) December 16, 2016
More from Twitter:
"We come here to get a degree and make a livelihood for ourselves." - Wolitarsky. Cites administration messing with players future.— Kyle Goblirsch (@GobieMN) December 16, 2016
Antoine Winfield Sr. said his son Antoine Jr. will not stay at University of MN if President Kaler and AD Mark Coyle remain in their jobs.— JoeChristensen (@JoeCStrib) December 16, 2016
Players said they won't back down if scholarships are threatened to be pulled— chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) December 16, 2016
Several coaches stood with players including Mike Sherels.— chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) December 16, 2016