Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review
Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota panel that heard the case of alleged involvement by 10 football players in a sexual assault on campus has upheld recommended punishment for five of them and overturned or reduced discipline for the other half.
Attorney Lee Hutton III, a former Gophers wide receiver representing nine of the players, confirmed Friday that quarterback Seth Green (one-year suspension), running back Kobe McCrary (one-year suspension), cornerback Antonio Shenault (probation) and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (one-year suspension) had recommended punishments dismissed.
Some of the other six players are facing expulsion. All parties, including the woman involved, can now appeal to the university provost. The Sept. 2 incident did not yield criminal charges, but it triggered an investigation by the university's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office that led to 18 hours of hearings last week in front of a three-person panel of university employees.
Hutton did not specify the panel's rulings on the six players still facing punishment but said they were "very disappointed" by the results. Twin Cities television station KSTP reported cornerbacks Ray Buford Jr. and KiAnte Hardin, safety Dior Johnson and defensive end Tamarion Johnson had recommended expulsions upheld, quarterback Mark Williams had a one-year suspension upheld and running back Carlton Djam had a recommended expulsion reduced to a one-year suspension.
"Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield Jr. are very pleased to be vindicated by the panel's rulings," Hutton said in a statement distributed by his Minneapolis law firm. "The allegations against them were unwarranted and could have greatly harmed their bright futures. They look forward to putting this incident behind them and moving ahead in their academic and athletic pursuits."
Hutton said the other six players were "exploring their options in consultation with their families."
University spokesman Evan Lapiska said "the law does not allow us to talk about further specifics about the events behind the suspensions."
The EOAA office investigates sexual assault complaints on campus as part of federal Title IX law and recommended the punishments after concluding the players violated the student conduct code. The players denied wrongdoing and remained enrolled in the university despite being suspended from the team since mid-December.
The woman involved alleged she was pressured into sex with multiple football players after a season-opening win over Oregon State. Four of the players - Buford, Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson - were initially suspended for three games during the police investigation. They were reinstated before the Iowa game on Oct. 8.
McCrary tweeted Friday afternoon: "Blessed man!!!! Ready to get back at it with my boys!"
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