Univ. of Minn. Football Team Ends Boycott Amid Sexual Assault Report
Sources say the leaked report played a role in the team’s decision.
The University of Minnesota football team cancelled its boycott after learning the details of the university’s sexual assault investigation.
The team announced the reversal at a Saturday morning press conference and said they plan to play in the Holiday Bowl game.
The boycott had been a response to the punishment of ten players who were included in the UM Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action report of an alleged sexual assault Sept. 2 involving a female student and more than ten men.
The report recommended five players be expelled, five players be suspended for one year and one player be placed on probation.
The players had criticized President Eric Kaler and Athletic Director Mark Coyle for depriving their teammates of due process rights and not being more transparent in the disciplinary process, according to the Star Tribune.
The team pushed for the five suspended players to be reinstated in a late-night meeting with Kaler Dec. 16 to no avail.
But the 80-page investigative report, which was leaked to the public last week, changed things for the boycotting players. The report cited player testimony during the university’s investigation as well as text and email messages between players to indicate that many of them likely had sex with the student, reports southernminn.com.
It is unclear why criminal charges were not brought by Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman. The burden of proof for guilt is lower in university proceedings than in court proceedings.
Meanwhile, the players’ decision to play in the Dec. 27 bowl game ends the possibility of a historic boycott.
“I learned a lot from these past couple days,” senior receiver Drew Wolitarsky said as part of the team’s statement. “There are no right choices. There are no decisions that do not affect somebody else… Let me first state so there is no misperception: sexual harassment and violence against women have no place on this campus, on our team, in our society and at no time is it ever condoned. There is only one acceptable way to treat all women and all men, and that is with the utmost respect at all times.”
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