The USA Today is reporting that players on the University of Minnesota football team have announced they will boycott all football activities, including their bowl game. The boycott is to protest the suspension of their fellow teammates as the result of a sexual assault investigation.
That is a lot to unpack. But, here is what we do know. 10 players were suspended earlier this week after an office at the university conducted an investigation into an alleged sexual assault in September involving several football players and a female student that worked at the stadium.
An earlier police investigation of the alleged incident didn’t result in criminal charges, and the players were never arrested, according to the Associated Press. The Hennepin County Attorney’s office said there was insufficient admissible evidence to bring a case.
That’s where facts end and speculation begins. When it comes to any case of alleged sexual assault, I don’t know where to begin. Because ultimately what you have is a he said, she said scenario and nobody wins there.
The non suspended players are standing by their teammates and the boycott is within their right. Minnesota senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky said the boycott was in support of “our brothers that have faced an unjust Title IX investigation without due process.”
Sexual assault is a very serious crime and an issue that should not be taken lightly. For too long on America’s college campuses, women have been made to feel unsafe. But, is this the case of a University jumping the gun to avoid a Baylor type scandal? Again, I don’t know anything beyond the facts that have been reported.
For his part, head coach Tracy Claeys is backing his players protest, saying via Twitter:
Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world.
The University AD Mark Coyle issued a statement, which read in part:
We understand that a lot of confusion and frustration exists as a result of this week’s suspension of 10 Gopher Football players from all team activities. The reality is that not everyone can have all of the facts, and unfortunately the University cannot share more information due to federal laws regarding student privacy.
The University is in full on defense mode and protecting itself from any potential lawsuits that may be coming down the road. This is a murky, unsettled situation and I don’t know that the protest will change anything or if any resolution is forthcoming.
But, I do know this. The incidents of sexual violence on college campuses in America is a serious problem. Too often, when these incidents involve prominent members of the athletic community, Universities have found a way to sweep them under the rug and keep it quiet. Anyone involved in violence against women, whether direct or indirect needs to be held accountable.
Flip the page to see the video of the Minnesota football players announcing the boycott.