MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota Gopher football players announced Thursday evening that they will boycott all activities in response to the suspension of 10 players earlier this week.
Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky, with his team members standing behind him, made the announcement at the Gibson-Nagurski Football complex.
“Effective immediately, we will boycott all football activities,” Wolitarsky said. “The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed, and the suspensions for all 10 players … are lifted.”
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Wolitarsky says the decision was made after a “disappointing meeting” with Athletic Director Mark Coyle.
“We are concerned that our brothers have been named publically with reckless disregard in violation of their constitutional rights,” Wolitarsky said. “We are now compelled to speak for our team and take back our program.”
The team was set to play in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.
“We respectfully request that the Holiday Bowl committee be patient during this time while Mark Coyle considers reversing his decision to suspend,” Wolitarsky said.
Ten players were suspended Tuesday in connection to a sexual assault investigation. Four of the 10 players were originally suspended in September for three games, and had been re-instated until this week.
After the players gave announced the boycott, Coyle and Kaler released their own joint statement on the issue:
“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. We fully support our Gopher football players and all of our student-athletes. Situations like this are always difficult and the decision was made in consultation with and has the full support of President Eric Kaler. The decision was based on facts and is reflective of the University’s values.
“We want to continue an open dialogue with our players and will work to do that over the coming days. It’s important that we continue to work together as we move through this difficult time.”
Head Coach Tracy Claeys sent out this tweet within a couple of hours after the team’s announcement:
The four players were not arrested, and Hennepin County prosecutors declined to press charges.
The 10 players who were suspended are identified as Ray Buford Jr., KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Antonio Shenault, Antoine Winfield Jr., Carlton Djam, Kobe McCrary, Seth Green and Mark Williams.