MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gopher football coach Tracy Claeys is looking forward to meeting this week with athletics director Mark Coyle.
Some published reports are saying the two will get together as early as Tuesday.
“They’re saying it’s Tuesday, I don’t know if that set in stone,” Claeys said on Sunday during his weekly appearance on WCCO’s Sports Huddle with Dave Mona and Mike Max. “We’re both going to get back in town this week, and we’ll get together.”
He admitted earlier that he could lose his job over his actions, adding that he was standing up for the players’ desire for their teammates to have due process before being punished.
“I look forward to sitting down and visiting with Mark, and see where we go,” Claeys said. “All of that I think is much better handled behind closed doors and not through the media.”
Twice the Hennepin County attorney chose not to file charges in the case. Mike Freeman revisited the investigation after a U of M probe, which was required by federal law, revealed graphic details of the Sept. 2 confrontation. In the report the alleged victim claimed she was assaulted by several Gopher players and an underage recruit. That internal investigation led to the suspensions, and the players will have a hearing this month.
The suspensions came as the Gophers were preparing for the Holiday Bowl. The Gophers upset Washington State 17-12 in the Dec. 27 game in San Diego, Calif. Claeys said since the win, he feels more Gopher fans would like to see him remain as head coach.
“Yeah, I do. I do,” Claeys said. “I also understand it’s a slippery slope. There’s going to be people on both sides. As I said the other night, maybe I could have worded [the tweet] a little bit better. In no way would I ever be in support of people being affected by sexual assault.”
The Gophers finished the season 9-4, the third time in four seasons that the team has won at least eight games, all with Claeys on the coaching staff. This past season was the Gophers’ first full year under Claeys, who took over in the middle of the 2015 campaign after head coach Jerry Kill stepped down for health reasons. Claeys had been assistant head coach and defensive coordinator under Kill.
The 2016 season has been overshadowed by the alleged incident, which the investigations reveal took place in the early-morning hours of Sept. 2, not long after the Gophers beat Oregon State 30-23 in the season opener at TCF Bank Stadium.
Following a police investigation, Freeman announced in October that charges would not be filed.
After looking into the case again following the suspension and boycott, he announced in a statement last Friday that the U’s probe revealed “deplorable behavior,” the information wasn’t significantly different from the earlier criminal investigation.
The suspensions, the boycott, negotiations between players and administrators, the release of details from the U investigation and decision to resume practice all happened over a tension-filled week, starting Dec. 13 and ending six days later.
“It’s good to work through all that. It’s a learning experience for everyone.”