Last week, 10 University of Minnesota Football players were suspended upon investigation of them being involved in a campus sexual assault case.
Due to the belief that these suspensions were unjust because the players felt the sex was consensual, the entire team had, at first, decided to boycott any football activities, including their upcoming Holiday Bowl Game December 27, until the suspensions were lifted.
The women who filed the report claimed that she was sexually assaulted by several men in September and the University’s office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action recommended that several be expelled from the school while the others involved should be suspended.
On Saturday, the players ended their boycott and will now play in the Holiday Bowl after reading the investigation report and the women’s description of what happened. After reading the harrowing description of what went on through victim’s eyes and sitting down with University President Eric Kaler, they scheduled a players-only meeting at 6:00 the next morning and at 9 a.m., they announced that the boycott was over.
Head Coach Tracy Claeys spoke about the situation on Sunday through a tweet that read: “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights and support their efforts to make a better world!”
He would go on to give an official statement later that day about the pre-boycott meeting he had with his players.
Via Jason Kirk/sbnation.com: “He said he told them ‘about all the different fallouts. One was that we might not be able to play in the bowl game. Two is that we knew that there was going to be a group who took the stance that we were being pro-sexual assault, which we’re not. And then I told them there’s a great chance I could lose my job over this.”
Before the boycott, the report was not made available to players; Claeys also claimed that had it been available, he would have known that the boycott would have crumbled because of how graphic the report was.
I agree with Claeys praise of his team in the wake of this investigation. Despite the horrific nature of any sexual assault case and the terrible reasons that anyone would ever do it, the fact is that many college football programs and many college sports programs in general, have to go through these kind of situations whenever their players go out and have sex.
On several occasions, reports and claims of sexual assault have been made against some of the more prominent players on teams and have turned out to be false and only filed only to exploit the player’s notoriety and future bank account. There also have been reports filed that are true and upon the investigation, the players who committed those horrible acts have likely been suspended, kicked off the team, or expelled from the school.
In saying this, the fact that the entire team at first supported their teammates shows a lot and I think they did the right thing on the surface. The fact that they could not see the actual report before making their decision to boycott plays a huge role because in their eyes; they looked at it as a situation where the report was filed to take advantage of their status at school and truly believed their teammates when they said the sex was consensual. Playing college sports allows you to form a family with your teammates, and the fact that 10 of them were being suspended raised a lot of eyebrows and at first seemed far-fetched for just one instance or event. To this point, the team rallied around their teammates and supported them to the extreme point of not doing anything football related until their suspensions were lifted.
Now, after they read the report and saw what the woman had said in her description of the situation, they then understood the gravity of it and realized that by taking this stand, they were, in turn, supporting pro-sexual assault, because the report was that in-depth and graphic. Upon reading it, they knew that they had to rescind their stance because although, they did want to support their teammates, they also don’t want to support them if they have truly done something to this magnitude. So, their decision to step forward and end the boycott, is something that should be respected given the circumstances.
If this report is true and all of this happened, all 10 players should be expelled immediately. There is never room for those kind of actions to take place anywhere at any time. The rest of the team should not have to suffer due to the bad decisions made by some of their teammates, and they should not be negatively viewed for showing their support for them at first, because that’s what any team would do in that situation not seeing the report.
I believe that the statements they made post-boycott should also be praised because they admit their lack of understanding exactly what happened and upon learning, immediately changed their stance for the betterment of the team and the University.
Do you think the Minnesota Football team should have ended their boycott? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.