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Review: Minnesota Adhered to Policy with Suspensions

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Copyright 2017 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota followed law and policy properly when it suspended 10 football players last fall following an accusation of sexual assault, an outside review found.

The review released Wednesday blamed "weak leadership" by the coaching staff for a threat by remaining players to boycott the Holiday Bowl. The Dorsey and Whitney law firm's review also said administrators and regents could have done a better job managing the threatened boycott.

A student accused several players of sexually assaulting her at a party last September. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, citing insufficient evidence. But the university suspended the players following an internal investigation.

Influence by unnamed outsiders on both the football team and coaching staff also "helped foster a hostile atmosphere where meaningful dialogue was difficult," the report concluded.

Then-head coach Tracy Claeys backed the boycott, but players ultimately decided to play and beat Washington State 17-12. Claeys was fired a week later.

The university contends it acted properly under federal Title IX guidelines, which require campuses to investigate reports of sexual misconduct.

"We are pleased with the conclusion that the University's actions were consistent with University policies and federal law," the university said in a statement Wednesday.

Minneapolis attorney John Marti, who conducted the review along with attorney Jillian Kornblatt, told the oversight committee that critics of the player suspensions failed to understand that the university is obligated to investigate sexual assault complaints, even when prosecutors decline to file charges.

The report found that the threatened boycott resulted from "weak leadership by the football coaching staff" and "impaired communications and a breakdown in trust" between university leadership and the football team.

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August 17, 2017
 
 
 

 

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