The entire Minnesota football team said Thursday it is boycotting all football activities, which could include its bowl game, until it gets satisfactory answers from the university about the suspension of 10 players.
The school suspended the players Tuesday after an internal investigation into a sexual assault case. Police declined to arrest or charge any of the players, but the school suspended them based on its own standards for conduct.
The team’s players said they haven’t ruled out skipping the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 against Washington State. They asked the bowl’s committee to be patient while they work through the situation.
“The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed and the suspensions for all 10 players are lifted,” senior receiver Drew Wolitarsky said, reading from a prepared statement while flanked by teammates. “We further request that (President Eric) Kaler and (Athletic Director Mark) Coyle (apologize) and demand that these leaders are held accountable for their actions. This decision for the players to take this stance is not easy, but important to preserve the integrity of the program and ourselves.”
Coyle was the Boise State athletic director from 2011 to 2015.
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The university announced its suspensions Tuesday night without disclosing why.
The incident at an off-campus apartment in September led to three-game suspensions of four of the players earlier this season. Another six were added to that list this week after the internal investigation for reasons that remain unclear.
A joint statement issued by Kaler and Coyle on Thursday night said the school’s decision was “based on facts and is reflective of the university’s values.”
“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 statement read. “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.”
Holiday Bowl Executive Director Mark Neville said they were “monitoring it closely.” A request for comment from the Big Ten was not immediately returned.
Washington State sold out its 7,000-ticket allotment in less than two days and has already requested more.
Getting a team to fill the bowl spot on short notice would be difficult, if not impossible. But the next team in line to receive a bid is Northern Illinois, which finished 5-7 but has the highest Academic Progress Rate among teams with that record.