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U. of Minnesota FB Team Boycotts Bowl Game

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On Thursday night, University of Minnesota football players came together as a team in support of 10 suspended teammates who are facing a Title IX investigation into an alleged rape.

The alleged rape, during which the victim claims she saw “a line of men waiting to take turns,” implicates players Ray Buford Jr., Carlton Djam, Seth Green, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr. A police investigation into the September incident did not result in prosecution. After reviewing evidence, investigators were convinced that the sexual encounter was consensual, and in the end no charges were filed. 

The team announced that they will be boycotting all football events, including their scheduled Holiday Bowl game against Washington State in San Diego on Dec. 27.

Senior Drew Wolitarsky represented the team to read their official statement to the press, which says the players felt compelled to take action after a meeting with athletic director Mark Coyle in which they “got no answers” to their questions regarding the reasoning behind the suspension. Wolitarsky told ESPN that the lack of transparency shown by the administration led the team to believe that the punishment is “kind of unjust.”

The player’s statement informs the administration that their boycott “will remain effective until due process is followed and suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted.” The Title IX investigation conducted by the university was initiated after the conclusion of the police investigation. A hearing is to be conducted in January, following the Holiday Bowl game, with the suspension sustained until after the proceedings.

A joint statement from athletic director Mark Coyle and university president Eric Kaler was released in response to the boycott, which read, "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 statement went on to say that the decision to suspend the players “was based on facts and is reflective of the University's values.” The team is now demanding a private meeting with the board of regents.

The players have been supported in their stand on Twitter by coach Tracy Claeys. “Have never been more proud of our kids,” he wrote.

Others are having a harder time seeing the nobility in their actions. To quote one interested party who commented on a related article from DEADSPIN, “What a pathetic hill to die on.”

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