You know when a school issues a statement like that, somebody’s done screwed up.
Those of you who’ve been looking for a political post to sink your teeth into here just had a developing controversy served up to you by the Minnesota football team, which announced a boycott by the entire roster of all football-related activities, including a scheduled appearance in the Holiday Bowl, unless and until the school’s president rescinds a decision to suspend ten teammates as a result of a September sexual assault allegation.
Those 10 suspended players stood directly behind seniors Drew Wolitarsky, Mitch Leidner and Duke Anyanwu — with the rest of the team arrayed behind them in support — as Wolitarsky read from a typed, two-page statement, laying out the players’ demands.
“The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed and the suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted,” Wolitarsky said.
Wolitarsky said the players want an apology from university President Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle, adding that the players “demand that these leaders are held accountable for their actions.”
Asked if the players were worried about losing their scholarships, Wolitarsky responded: “We’re all in this together. What are they going to do, pull 120 guys off the team? They won’t have a team if that’s the case.”
If you hear an echo of what happened a year ago at Missouri, then your hearing is good.
While the players’ tactics in these two matters may be similar, the underlying cause of discontent is different. The Missouri action was taken in response to a concern that the school administration was indifferent to minority students. The impetus to the Minnesota boycott is a Title IX decision that came after no criminal charges were pursued.
On Tuesday, the school suspended 10 players indefinitely from all team activities, with those players facing new sanctions from the university’s office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA).
According to the players’ attorney, the EOAA recommended expulsion for Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson. The attorney said the EOAA recommended one-year suspensions from the university for Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr., and probation for Antonio Shenault.
Some of the players were directly accused by a female student in an alleged sexual assault in the early morning hours after the Gophers’ Sept. 2 season opener; the involvement of others is unclear. The school discipline comes weeks after a criminal investigation resulted in no arrests or charges. The woman’s allegations were documented through police reports and court testimony, and ultimately led to the EOAA investigation.
Wolitarsky said the team wants the players reinstated because they were punished “for things they didn’t do.” Attorney Lee Hutton, who is representing all 10 players, said he is working on their appeals.
Besides the threat to sit, the other common thread in both circumstances is player dissatisfaction with the way the administration responded to the situations.
Wolitarsky said the players were incensed after a brief meeting with Coyle following Wednesday’s practice.
“We got no answers to our questions about why these kids were suspended when they were just found [innocent] by the law,” Wolitarsky said. “He basically told us that he didn’t have answers, and that led us to believe that this is kind of unjust. He has the power to reverse this, and he won’t.”
The sticking point with the Minnesota situation appears to be one of timing.
A source tells ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that the primary issue for the boycott was the school suspending the players before a hearing based on the Title IX investigation had been held. That hearing wouldn’t have taken place until January, after the bowl game.
The source also said the Title IX investigation started at the same time as the police investigation.
Wolitarsky also asked that the Holiday Bowl committee “be patient” while the team waited for a resolution to the suspensions. The coaching staff is planning to come in on Friday, a source tells Rittenberg, but there isn’t expected to be another team practice until players get their meeting.
“We are concerned that our brothers have been named publicly with reckless disregard in violation of their constitutional rights,” Wolitarsky said. “We are now compelled to speak for our team and take back our program.”
So, we’ve got Missouri mixed in with a little Title IX business (certainly a hot button issue in these times) and maybe a little Duke lacrosse scandal tossed in, to boot. I mean, what could possibly go sideways there?
Oh, and there’s one more wrinkle. The school president claims that the head coach was the man who made the call. The players aren’t buying that.
Kaler said in a letter Wednesday to university boosters that Claeys made the decision to suspend the players, with support from Coyle. Later in the evening, Coyle clarified that he made the decision in consultation with Claeys.
But two sources said Thursday that the decision was made above Claeys.
“Mark Coyle did it,” Wolitarsky said. When told of Kaler’s statement that Claeys made the decision, Wolitarsky said, “I don’t believe that.”
Who’s right here? I can’t say for sure, but if the head coach was the man who pulled the trigger, this sure seems like a strange tack for him to take in the aftermath.
Gophers coach Tracy Claeys expressed support for his players, tweeting, “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!”
What a fine mess they’ve made. The optimal solution would appear to be to rescind the suspensions and move the Title IX hearing date up to the here and now, but that may require a degree of nimbleness the Minnesota administration is incapable of performing. Absent that, we may be about to find out what comes of players cancelling a bowl appearance.
60 responses to ““… It’s important that we continue to work together as we move through this difficult time.””
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As the father of two daughters I take issues related to any allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously.
However, legitimate claims and victims have been damaged by a lot of “crying wolf” in recent years, and these Title IX/EEO office star chambers with no due process should not supersede the criminal justice system.
Even the Tallahassee criminal justice system?
the kangaroo courts that schools have created are often David Lynch-esque.
I KNEW you were going to say that, and I don’t have a great answer. Someone does need to watch the watchmen — at least there is some political accountability there. These campus “courts” are guilty until proven innocent all the way — I can’t abide that.
Agrees accusations alone should not be reason enough for punishment for anyoine.
Nobody wants to be the next Baylor.
And why not? Having little/no knowledge of the facts should never stop someone from protesting in our country these days, just follow the herd. There should be consequences for walkouts like these, including for the coach. Sending a representative of the team/staff to express concern, and get what information is available is the best place to start, not putting a gun to their head. Do they really think the players will be reinstated in an immediate reversal?
The admin says they cannot discuss all that is known, and I don’t doubt that is true given the rules we all operate under. If you don’t believe them, leave the team and walk away from your scholarship. If you have that much confidence in your knowledge of the situation, and feel that strongly about a wrong being done, you should risk it all. And the same with the coach, put your job on the line if you choose to join the protest against your boss. You will be considered a hero if you are right and the players were mistreated or accused wrongly. If you are wrong, you weren’t smart enough to be the coach anyway. State Penn took no action for decades as they waited for the District Attorney to get enough info, should Minnesota do nothing? Or act on the info they have been given? You cannot wait and decide what to do years later.
That’s where the players started, Mac.
So, you either feel they are lying and quit, or you express trust and move on until you find you were lied to. Holding out with the clock ticking on your prep time for the next game is no position at all. Have the courage of your convictions and risk it all, or STFU. This was already a distraction, with every day passing, and emotions growing more heated, this is a total cluster. We all know about privacy laws and why the position the school is taking sounds reasonable. The alphas on this team are leading the sheep down a dangerous path, imo. School is now backed in a corner with no options. Imagine if they were to reinstate and another incident occurs either on campus or in San Diego.
So you’re saying that nothing is a sufficient answer? I would imagine a great deal more than “nothing” can be provided. They certainly haven’t hesitated to cause attention to the accusation that these players did something untoward. Their privacy rights have been ignored.
In short, they can say why they made the decision as to each player and stand behind it without revealing the identity of the accuser. They just don’t want to and don’t think that they have to.
It sounds to me like they are treating these guys much like the Duke lacrosse players were treated. Punishment first, trial second.
I wonder why the alleged victim’s identity is protected while the alleged perpetrator’s identity is not in these things. What if the allegation isn’t true? Their name is already tied to a shit situation. Sexual Assault should absolutely be prosecuted and punished. But the grey area is really wide. Any girl can make a bad decision then change her mind after and wreck someone’s whole life. Sexual Assault is real–but so is crying wolf. How can you tell the difference? I am not trying to be insensitive, just trying to see both sides. That said, if it happened to my daughter, I seriously doubt the guy would make it to trial.
The identity thing was thought to take away a rationale for why a victim might not come forward. Arguably that’s true. I don’t have a problem really with that anonimity but a wall of silence is not necessary.
I get that–but maybe both parties should be sheltered the same way. Just in case.
Agree with both of your comments, here and above.
“guys” 12 of them.
Yeah and then they should have taken “F— you and play” for an answer.
I have no problem on the players standing up for, and insisting upon, transparency. They are adults. They should get an adult answer. To stand silent is to risk that they are the next to be randomly punished w/o cause or an opportunity to be heard. If they don’t stand up for their teammates, who will stand up for them?
Mac, I agree with many of your comments here. But why must the football team protest in the way you want them to protest? They are doing what everyone does – weilding what power they have to affect what change they can.
Like many of you, I have a daughter, take the allegations seriously and would rather have a team of walk-ons than a team of students with entitled / protected status.
However, if the players were not charged, yes, the school is free to suspend them, although I think the school admins are ridiculously activist and alarmist of late. But the players’ teammates, as free citizens, are frankly honor-bound to stick up for their teammates if they believe them.
Re the charges, I usually think where there is smoke there is fire – even a small one – but I have rarely seen an entire group of people go to war for dirtbags. There is nothing in the line, here – I think the teammates feel the accused have a credible story.
Good for them. I hope they’ve picked the right side.
Cosmic, I am not telling them how to protest, I am saying there has to be consequences for them boycotting because they are taking the position they get to make the rules or they take their ball and go home. If all teams chose this direction, the entire CFB system would collapse. The players who refuse to participate, and the coach who does not require them to prepare and play for the bowl should have their scholarships/jobs taken away. They have that right if they feel that strongly about their principles. If the administration feels they know enough to suspend the 10 players, and are wrong, they should be fired as that is known. Until they are proven to be in error, it is their responsibility to protect the name of the university, who represents it by wearing the uniform, and also protect the safety of other students. To allow the other teammates to have control of what rules can be enforced, and when, is just unacceptable. We live in a society that has rules, them not liking them doesn’t mean they can take any actions they choose, without some consequence.
The Holiday Bowl is scheduled to be played in 11 days, there are charities and businesses that are impacted by this reckless action (hotels, restaurants,, employees’ compensation, TV time, two groups of loyal fans, another football team, etc.) To jeopardize all that to show support for your teammates when you do not yet know they have been unjustly harmed is way over the top, to me. The harm they are doing is disproportionate to those 10 players missing a game. Where do you draw the line? Do the UGA players get to walk out because of a failed drug/DUI test? Failed history test? Involved in a fight where there were injuries? Accepting illegal payments from agents? Where? Players have to let the system sort through this and pass judgement afterwards. But I don’t deny the have the right to quit, including the coach, if they feel that strongly.
You need to read the linked articles carefully, Mac. Suspensions are longer than that.
No, I did see that. Just meant this was timed for maximum leverage and time may open things up for all. Perhaps more can be revealed in the next few months to defuse the situation. Actually, the severity of punishment recommended makes it more likely there is substance to the charge. Presumptuous I know, but this isn’t a new charge or something they are knee jerking without having had some time.
And sometimes, the players should make the rules. Will agree to disagree on that point.
Great points, Mac. Thank God for authoritarians who can do the thinking for the plebes of college football and beyond. Why, we can’t allow these 10 black kids to stand up for themselves in the arena. What’s next? Standing up for themselves at the workplace? At the ballot box? It would be chaos, I tells ya!
No, I like Mac’s suggestion much better. Just shut up, keep your head down, and assume that anyone who has authority over you has received that authority by divine right and must never be questioned.
Nah, I think you prefer chaos, anarchy, and riots in the streets. Maybe shoot a few police officers while you are at it. This law and order thing is so overrated. Maybe suggest we over turn the election results too. Nothing like acting like a 3rd world country and smelling a few businesses and neighborhood burning. Let the workers do as they please, open all the jail cell doors. Some great thinking on your part bonefart, we sure need more guys like you. Sad little man, burn baby burn.
Hey man, I’m with you. If football players have rights, we’re all in trouble. Without authority figures acting with impunity, the world will go straight to hell.
Nope, better the world thinks like we do and accepts that our benevolent overlords, whether they wear pantsuits or badges, know what’s best for us. Without other people telling us what to do, how will we know what to do?
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but we know some will never get it and be able to stand on their own. You are one of the weak ones and , unfortunately, have been a sheep led astray. Hopefully better leadership will help you understand the difference between leaders who help you learn how to stand on your own and those who use their authority to keep you from harming yourself, telling you what to think, and providing for you. Independence is a great concept, but not everyone is capable….you seem to be one of the latter. But there is hope, some are just slow to get there. But being independent does not mean you are free from rules and can be disruptive every time you don’t get your way. Perhaps someone will get you a comfort dog to snuggle with. They seem to be in great demand by those unable to cope in the big, bad world. Until then, keep some tissues nearby.
I’m totally on your side, Mac. We’re all too weak-minded to be allowed to live our own lives however we like. Whether we need a president to tell us what to do, a policeman to tell us what to do, or an athletic director to tell us what to do, nobody is arguing with you that we must all be told what to do.
This one is ugly.
Players are standing up for their teammates’ right to gang bang a woman. I don’t necessarily think that’s where I’d draw a line in the sand, but YMMV.
Yes, I just read an article on it…much more sympathetic to the school’s position. From a legal POV, consent is all that matters, I guess, but there are things that are legal (racial slurs, gang banging) that ought to get you sanctioned in some way.
At the same time, I support the players’ right to boycott, the school’s right to dismiss players, and the fans’ right to attend games and donate or not.
I read everything linked and I’m not clear what happened but it seems this was a situation like FSU in that no charges were filed. Of course that is not the same as nothing happened. Did something happen or did it not? It says the woman went to the hospital, so what did they find there? Someone needs to investigate, and if some other team plays the bowl game or if the game is not played at all, so be it.
It sounds like an investigation was conducted and a decision was made. They just don’t want to tell those effected by both anything about either one.
The woman claimed she got drunk, went to a party, went to a room with a football player, and had sex with him and several others. She admitted that she may have consented to sex with two men, but didn’t consent to sex with four others. Although, there may have been as many as twelve men in total waiting to take turns.
Carlton Djim, with whom she had the initial contact, recorded three videos of her and showed police. The police report stated that she appeared lucid and consensual. That’s when they dropped the criminal investigation.
The school, unburdened by due process, decided that a professional investigation and hearing was unnecessary before recommending suspending some of the students for a year and expelling others. And that’s when these 10 black kids got all uppity and started asserting themselves.
I think the players are overestimating the number of people who would actually give a shit if they skipped the bowl game.
yeah I kind of want this thing to happen just so everyone can get a sense of what happens.
NIU seems likely to fill the spot, so the bowl and TV people get their game.
NIU gets to scramble for a christmas miracle bowl trip to San Diego.
Guessing the BIG 10 takes a bit of a money hit from the bowl revenue, but figure it can’t be that much.
a bowl game boycott might be the best way to test all this out without any real damage done.
This is a really interesting story that bears following. As the father of two teenage boys, my wife and I are drilling the concept of AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT into their brains because of the current environment. Obviously, we don’t condone rape nor would we, but somewhere along the way the line between “getting drunk and hooking up” got enmeshed with unwanted sexual contact. Given the seriousness of the impact to all parties, it is a really tricky issue. If an entire team is protesting, I am tempted to believe the allegations are not all true and due process has not been full. This is going to be very interesting to see how it’s resolved. Kudos Senstor for highlighting this one….
But affirmative consent is a nonsensical concept that assumes all men are rapists, unless they can prove they’re not. What saved Djim’s bacon in the criminal case, and what may ultimately help his academic case, is the fact that he recorded the consensual encounter. I will certainly be drilling that lesson into my son’s head. RECORD ALL CASUAL SEX. Save it. If, months later, she decides that she didn’t consent, you can pull out your phone and show her smiling face to the detectives and deans who are interrogating you.
Sexual assault is a real thing as are false accusations. I have no idea what happened here, but a decision not to prosecute is not the same as a finding of “innocence” or that the players “did nothing wrong.” (Wasn’t there something about this in the election?) The standards and burdens of proof for sending someone to jail versus revoking their scholarship are and should be different. Don’t we want scholarship students to meet some minimal level of behavior in order to keep the scholarship?
I advised a male student involved in a Title IX proceeding at a nearby midwest university. The process is not fair, and it was frustrating as a lawyer not to be allowed to attend the preliminary hearing and to attend the final hearing only as an observer. But I get where the universities are coming from on this – you don’t want your 19 year old daughter cross examined by a trial lawyer about a sexual experience. Yes, there is the potential for abuse, but these processes are the best we have for now and should be respected.
Clearly, there has been a failure of communication, and the predictable interest and feelings of the players for their teammates have not been respected. I agree with the Senator that moving up the hearing is the best solution. But the hearing will likely affirm the existing penalties. Then what? Should we allow the players to veto the school’s process?
As for Coach Claeys, he should be fired regardless. What a chicken shit. You can’t participate in a decision and then later weasel out of it. If he disapproved of the suspensions, he should have taken a stand when it was being discussed. Of course, I have no illusions about the supposed integrity of college football coaches.
I was at Duke in 2006-2007, and that really was an unbelievable mess. Here, though, there is no rogue prosecutor and the “victim” was not a student, so it really is a different case. Still, I hope the Minnesota administration handles this better than Duke did back then.
“…you don’t want your 19 year old daughter cross examined by a trial lawyer about a sexual experience.”
If I am the father of the accused young man, I sure as hell do.
“Yes, there is the potential for abuse, but these processes are the best we have for now and should be respected.”
That’s a cop out. Due process is something that is entirely achievable in an academic behavior proceeding. Throwing up our hands and just saying, “oh well,” isn’t acceptable when we’re talking about a young man’s future.
No, school isn’t the same as jail. But let’s not pretend that telling a young man falsely accused of rape and expelled without due process that, instead of being a doctor, he can always be a plumber, is something that we must just endure as a society. It’s not. Give kids lawyers. Let them examine evidence and cross examine witnesses. Stop letting sociologists and womyn’s studies professors dictate what happens to young men when they don’t even want to have the whole story.
I don’t know exactly how the Minnesota procedure works, but typically, faculty and/ or administrators separately interview the victim, witnesses and the accused. The results are then presented to a panel of faculty, administrators and students with some experience hearing these cases. Then there is likely a subsequent proceeding where the various parties “testify” before this panel, and the panel members ask questions. The panel then makes a recommendation for what, if any punishment should be applied. All of this remains private. The problem here is that people tend to notice if a football player is no longer around. It is not clear to me where in this process the Minnesota cases are, but it looks like they have gone this far and are now approaching a final hearing / appeal.
My main beef with this process is that the lawyer for the accused is often not allowed to attend, much less make argument, at any point in the proceeding until the very end. Also, there is generally very little oversight of these panels to prevent groupthink or insure that all viewpoints are thoroughly considered. It’s kind of like having a jury decide a case without the guidance of a judge.
Beyond this, though, the more formality you introduce into the system, the less likely victims will come forward. Minimal due process means you have notice of the charges against you and a reasonable opportunity to be heard. If you treat these proceedings with the same level of formality and rigidity as criminal proceedings, you will protect the rights of the accused, but there is a cost. When you say “Due Process is …entirely achievable…”, are you saying you want lawyers and cross examination in a trial? Victims simply will not come forward. Your son’s lawyer may well rip his accuser to shreds. He is an experienced professional, and she has likely never testified in any sort of proceeding before. She was probably drunk when the event happened and will have a fuzzy memory on many details. When she tells her friends about the terrible lawyer who made her cry, do you think that will have any effect on whether students come forward in the future?
And why not judgement by faculty? Who else should oversee student behavior at a University? Just because these folks are tenured faculty does not make them left wing nut jobs, man haters, or unable to hear evidence with an open mind. Sure, there are actual nuts involved, but most are keenly aware of all the criticisms of the process from all sides. Believe it or not, they want to get it right.
There is an obvious tension between the interest of the accused and the accuser. How do you want to set the playing field when the punishment is not jail but revocation of scholarship? Do you think sexual assault on campus is a bigger problem than false accusations of sexual assault? Surveys consistently reflect that sexual assault is a major problem. Maybe you don’t believe the survey data, but we don’t have any better data. I think there are a ton more case like Joe Mixon or Jameis Winston where guys basically get away with assault than there are cases where star chamber proceedings wrongfully expel a student. Because of this, I am willing to accept less formality in hopes that we can reduce assaults.
I don’t see the problem in letting the criminal justice system handle allegations of criminal activity on campus. Leave the academic tribunals for allegations of academic misconduct.
And even if you dismiss the fact that college professors mostly share a set of ideologies, you can’t dismiss the fact that there is a powerful incentive at work in these sexual assault cases. The DOE has announced that schools that don’t react appropriately enough for bureaucrats in Title IX cases are jeopardizing their federal funding.
So, what’s some poor boy’s future when weighed against the tens of millions of dollars each year the university stands to gain from throwing him under the bus? Not much.
Yes, sexual assault is a problem anywhere. But you shouldn’t believe the campus surveys that insist that 3 out of every 2 women are gang raped by Republican frat boys while chanting “Make America Great Again!” The hard data shows that rape occurs less often on campus than it does to non-students off campus.
“I don’t see the problem in letting the criminal justice system handle allegations of criminal activity on campus. Leave the academic tribunals for allegations of academic misconduct.”
Every college, even our beloved UGA, has a student code of conduct that provides punishment for non-academic misbehavior. There are lots of things that are neither academic related nor criminal that can get you suspended, and this is hardly new.
As for the “hard data” on rape, why is survey data from the general public “harder” than survey data from college students? Why believe one and mock the other?
More importantly, why does it matter? Are you saying that we shouldn’t worry about college rape because it is less frequent than non-college rape?
I’m fine with colleges handling non-criminal matters. But that’s not what is being discussed. We’re talking about doing an end run around due process for men accused of crimes.
And I mock the rape data on campus because I’ve read the methodology behind the numbers. Have you ever kiss a woman after she had a glass of wine? Rape. Even most of the responders to the campus surveys disagreed with the conclusions of the researchers that they were victims of crimes.
And it matters because ideologues are using false data to push an agenda. If rape is a tragic, but rare occurrence on campus, it doesn’t necessarily demand the same attention it would if every girl on campus will be raped twice in her first week on campus.
So if I understand your argument:
College rape is rare;
False accusations of college rape are more likely than college rape;
Therefore, accusations involving college rape should be handled exclusively by the state criminal justice system and not by colleges.
Is that a fair summary? If not, what have I missed?
I don’t know about the frequency of false rape accusations. But yes, rape is rare, regardless of the location of the occurrence. And the criminal justice system should handle crimes on campus, including rape.
While I’m more sympathetic to the players’ complaint in this case, they should still have their scholarships rescinded if they don’t relent. Refusal to participate in the activity for which you’re receiving it should render it null and void.
Sure. And the school should rescind the scholarships of every other player on their roster. They can skip the bowl game, sign 25 kids this spring, and play iron-man football in 2017. That’s putting their money where their mouths are.
Unfortunately, it appears to be a he said/she said situation. But I agree with Sam, at this point you have to fire the coach no matter what. If I’m the president I initiate that process the moment his Tweet goes out.
He said/she said….except with video footage of the actual events.
Can we go to the Holiday Bowl in the Gophers’ stead? San Diego would be a lot more fun than Memphis. Playing the Pirate Leach ought to be a hoot. And it’s prime time at 7:00 eastern! None of that noon shit.
Great points all. Going to the San Diego area is a plus, regardless of the time of year, or the opponent.
Their recruits have got to be looking hard at other offers. I would be.
And therein, lies the major rub.
And by no means any disrespect to the woman, rape allegations, etc. But for some, the major thing will be—what happens to the recruits and the team, and most important of all, to some, the $$$$$$$. Call me a cynic, I guess.
Interesting, it would really be nice to be privy to all the information. Would be a lot easier for me or someone to make a decision.
I almost feel as if I am being asked to comment here!
I’ll suggest an alternative headline:
When Competing Social
Justice Warriors Collide
ESPN must be chasing their collective tails when figuring whether to back the poor, disenfranchised exploited college athlete or the poor, disenfranchised exploited female.
If only there were a way to review the actual events, judge them on their own individual merits (or lack thereof) and reach a rational conclusion without there being a greater message.
Alas that ship done sailed…
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