So it turns out the Minnesota boycott fizzled because the players were as appalled about what the details of the 80-page sexual assault investigation report disclosed as the rest of the public was.
The EOAA report, the result of the school’s federally mandated investigation of the alleged sexual assault, described in deep detail how a female student and more than 10 men were involved in an incident in the early morning of Sept. 2, hours after the Gophers’ first game of the season.
Sources said the release of the report and the players getting a chance to read the results of the investigation were the biggest factors in the decision to end the boycott. “Once they read the report,” one source said, the “narrative” of the boycott changed…
… Wolitarsky also read the team’s original boycott announcement Thursday, and he drew much of the national criticism from those who felt the players’ stance was tone-deaf toward sexual violence.
According to people close to the situation, Wolitarsky was shaken by the criticism, stressed and crying at times. He was especially torn after reading the investigation report.
“I learned a lot from these past couple days,” Wolitarsky said. “There are no right choices. There are no decisions that do not affect somebody else. This process has been extremely difficult, and I’m sure you all know how stressful this has been for everybody involved.”
Hey, this is America, land of the rush to conclusion without knowing the facts, so I can understand. And while it’s easy to condemn the players for taking the stance they did, at least they had the sense to back off when the narrative no longer worked. That’s more than you can say for some people.
That being said, let’s not give the adults a pass here, either. Why the administration didn’t do a better job of heading things off by sharing some of the information in the EOAA report with the players instead of just standing by and letting the entire report get dropped into the public hamper is… well, I’d call it strange, except this is a university’s administration we’re talking about here. It probably would have been stranger if the matter had been handled more competently from the beginning.
Then there’s the question of the head coach, who was either kept out of the information loop himself, or made a disastrous decision to side with the players despite knowing more than they did. You can sympathize, if you like, about a man caught between a rock and a hard place, but in any event, he’s probably a dead man walking at this point.
Gophers coach Tracy Claeys will address the boycott lift when he meets the media after Sunday’s practice, a team spokesman said.
Claeys tweeted his feelings on the original boycott Thursday: “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!”
Other Gophers coaches voiced their support for the players, too. Since that stance ran contrary to Kaler and Coyle’s, they were asked if those gestures might impact their future at the university.
“Coaches are in a challenging position,” Kaler said. “They need to support their players. At the same time, they need to be responsible for their actions, and there are times in which those two demands put coaches in very difficult positions. We’ll talk about that with them and try to improve both their understanding and our understanding.”
Yeah. And if their understanding is that you belong somewhere else, they do hope you’ll understand that.