Despite Scandal, Gophers Are Bowl Bound

Gophers football players (from top left) Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson; (from bottom left) Antonio Shenault, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams, Seth Green and Antoine Winfield Jr. have been suspended from all team activities, the University of Minnesota announced Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Courtesy photos - Pioneer Press)

After meeting with University of Minnesota President Kaler, the team changes mind about boycotting football activities; resumes prep for Holiday Bowl.

Minneapolis, Minnesota   The University of Minnesota Gophers football team has ended its boycott and has resumed preparations for the upcoming Holiday Bowl game on Dec. 27.

Senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky read a prepared statement at a press conference held at 9am on Saturday, reported by Minnesota Daily:

“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,” Wolitarsky said, adding that the team recognized a difference between a “legal threshold” and a “moral threshold.”
“After many hours of discussion within our team, and after speaking with President Kaler, it became clear that our original request of having the 10 suspensions overturned was not going to happen,” Wolitarsky read.
The team instead requested a hearing process for the 10 sanctioned players, including a “diverse” review panel.

University President Eric Kaler released an open letter to the University’s student athletes, saying in part:

First, our institutional values require that we treat all members of our campus community with respect. This must occur above all else and cannot waiver.
Second, we have federal law and University processes in place to ensure the safety and respect of all on our campus. We are bound by these processes, which provide clear paths from investigation to due process. We must respect, adhere to and participate in our shared commitment to accountability.
Third, we all represent something bigger than ourselves – the University of Minnesota – and we must do it with integrity. Therefore, we have a responsibility to live out these and other values on campus and off…
But we can tell you that certain behavior is simply unacceptable and antithetical to our institutional values. We support Gopher Athletics’ decision because this is much bigger than football. It is about the values every University of Minnesota student is called on to uphold. We make these expectations clear, and when they are not met, there are consequences…

As Alpha News reported, the boycott stemmed from the suspension of ten UMN football players by the university resulting from an investigation into sexual assault allegations from September.  The Minneapolis police department also investigated the allegations but declined to charge the players due to a lack of evidence “beyond reasonable doubt” that the assault(s) occurred.  The university does not have the same standard when investigating incidents, and as a result, found ten players violated sexual harassment/discrimination policies set forth until Title IX.   The university recommended a one year suspension for four of the players (Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams, and Antoine Winfield, Jr.), probation for one (Antonio Shenault) and expulsion for Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson and KiAnte Hardin

KSTP News obtained the the police report and the UMN Office of EOAA (Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action) investigation report, and has released both to the public.  KSTP stated that it released both documents to give the community the opportunity to read and evaluate the decisions made by police and the university.  The reports can be found at the following links.

University of Minnesota’s EOAA Investigative Report

Minneapolis Police Department Case Report

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle is a former writer for Alpha News.