Three Gophers Cleared in Final UMN Decision on Sexual Assault Case

UMN Provost rules in favor of three and against two football players.

MINNEAPOLIS – Three football players at the University of Minnesota won appeals Monday regarding punishments related to a sexual assault case last September.

The Pioneer Press reports safety Antoine Winfield Jr., quarterback Mark Williams, and running back Kobe McCrary will not face punishment. Karen Hanson, the university’s provost, oversaw the appeal process.

Williams was appealing a one-year suspension recommended by a three-person panel appointed by the university. The victim appealed the panel’s decision to downgrade Winfield and McCrary’s punishment from one-year suspensions to no punishment. McCrary was placed on probation until he graduates for giving false information to investigators.

These three players along with cornerback Antonio Shenault and quarterback Seth Green “have been reinstated to team-related activities” on Monday night, reports the Pioneer Press. Shenault and Green were cleared by the panel in February.

“These couple of months have been nothing short of a nightmare for me and I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and shown nothing but love,” Winfield wrote on Twitter, “Today I have officially been cleared and I am excited to tear up the field for my brothers and my gopher fans.”

Hanson upheld cornerback KiAnte Hardin’s recommended expulsion, as well as running back Carlton Djam’s one-year suspension, reports the Pioneer Press. Djam initially was recommended for expulsion, but the panel reduced his punishment to a suspension in February. In addition to his appeal, the woman in the case filed to reinstate Djam’s expulsion.

Spring practice started March 7, and the players involved in the case were kept from participating until the board made a decision on their appeals.

Hanson did not meet with either the players or the woman, reports USA Today. Instead she reviewed written statements from all parties. Winfield’s attorney Ryan Pacyga said the players’ attorneys are considering further legal action, including a lawsuit regarding the Title IX investigation, and legal action against the woman who made the allegations.

Hardin, along with Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, and Ray Buford currently remain under expulsion orders. The university’s standard of proof is only “more likely than not” rather than the legal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Anders Koskinen