Players from the University of Minnesota’s football team stood united Thursday as senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky announced his team was boycotting all official activities — including practices, meetings and perhaps the Gophers’ upcoming bowl game — due to the school suspending 10 players.
The Gophers (8-4) are scheduled to play Washington State in the San Diego Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday night that if Minnesota pulls out of the bowl game, it could be replaced by Northern Illinois.
Players asked the bowl to be patient with them.
“The boycott will remain effective until due process is followed and suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted,” Wolitarsky read from a prepared statement at the school’s practice facility as his teammates stood behind him in their maroon game jerseys.
Earlier this week, the school suspended 10 players from the football team stemming from an internal investigation into an alleged sexual assault which happened in September.
Four players were suspended earlier this season but reinstated to the team.
This week, the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action recommended re-suspending the original four players as well as six others citing the violation of the school’s “standards for conduct.”
Five players, the office ruled, should be expelled from school.
No arrests were made from the police investigation from earlier this season.
The players say they haven’t received due process from President Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle and will boycott all football activities until they
Kaler and Coyle issued a statement Thursday night.
“We understand that a lot of confusion and frustration exists as a result of this week’s suspension of ten 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.”
Coach Tracy Claeys backed his players with a tweet on Thursday: