Minnesota Players Boycotting The Holiday Bowl Because 10 Of Their Teammates Were Suspended For Alleged Sexual Assault

Screen Shot 2016-12-16 at 9.18.41 AM

Time - University of Minnesota football players are boycotting the sport after 10 of their teammates were suspended.

A statement put out Thursday by the boycotting players said they met with their athletic director and “wanted answers but received misleading statements,” so “the boycott will remain effective until due process is followed and suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted,” according to ESPN.

The school has not announced why the 10 players were suspended, but ESPN reports that the father of one of them said it was a result of a university Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault.

Lot of crazy stuff happening in college football this week. First there was a legitimate mole in the Wake Forest program, a radio guy literally spying on the team and selling their plays. Now we’ve got an entire team boycotting their bowl game and refusing to play? To quote the great Vince Lombardi what the hell is goin on out here??

Anyway let’s take a look at the issue at the heart of this thing – 10 players suspended for alleged sexual assault.

Ray Buford Sr., the father of defensive back Ray Buford Jr., said the new suspensions resulted from an investigation by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action that was separate from earlier investigations into the alleged assault in the early hours of Sept. 3.

Buford Jr., KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson were suspended for three games when their names came up in the police investigation. The players were not arrested, prosecutors decided not to press charges and the players returned to the team. The restraining order was lifted after a settlement on Nov. 2.

The other six players are defensive backs Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield Jr., running backs Carlton Djam and Kobe McCrary, and quarterbacks Seth Green and Mark Williams. Hardin and Winfield are starters and Buford and Shenault are key reserves.

The school has recommended expulsion for Buford, Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson and Djam and one-year suspensions for the other five players. [Fox]

The exact story:

According to police records released Wednesday, the woman told police she was drunk when she was sexually assaulted in Djam’s apartment by several men, including some of the suspended players. She said her sexual contact with two men may have been consensual, but her contact with four of them was not. Several players told police it was consensual.

The players boycotted practice Thursday, one day after meeting with Coyle. Then they all lined up in the team’s indoor practice facility, wearing their maroon jerseys with gold numbers and vowing to stay united.

“When we had questions for him, he basically told us that he didn’t have answers,” Wolitarsky said. “So that led us basically to believe that this is kind of unjust and he has the power to reverse this and he won’t.”

In recent seasons, big-time college football teams have been much more aggressive about exercising their collective right to protest by threatening not to play when they are dissatisfied with issues they confront on campus.

I know everybody flocks to blogs in times like this to get the hottest take possible. I mean if you don’t take a firm stance on one extreme or the other what’s the point of even covering it? These Minnesota players are either rapists who should be executed in the streets and their buddies protesting on their behalf should follow right after, or this chick is just another liar looking to take down some athletes she has a grudge with. If you don’t take one of those and run with it as hard as possible how are you going to get any pageviews.

I will say, at least the way I’m reading it, the players not being arrested and prosecutors declining to even press charges makes me a little curious why the school is making their own seemingly separate judgements. But we have seen police departments botch cases and give preferential treatment to football players when it comes to things like sexual assault, cough cough FSU.

This is the alleged victim’s account:

After Djam, others followed. She told police she saw a line of men waiting to take turns.

“I was removing myself from my mind and my body to help myself from the pain and experience going on,” she testified.

She estimated there were at least a dozen men. “I was shoving people off of me,” she testified. “They kept ignoring my pleas for help. Anything I said they laughed. They tried to cheer people on.” [Star Trib]

And Djam’s defense:

On Sept. 8, police investigators Eric Faulconer and Matthew Wente interviewed Djam. He acknowledged having sex with the woman, but was adamant that it was consensual. As proof, he played them three separate videos, totaling about 90 seconds, taken that morning.

During an 8-second clip, the woman “appears lucid, alert, somewhat playful and fully conscious; she does not appear to be objecting to anything at this time,” Wente wrote in his report. After viewing two additional videos, he wrote “the sexual contact appears entirely consensual.”

Like I said, I don’t know enough about it to fire up my hot take machine. All I know is a major football program is literally boycotting their bowl game, and that’s big news.

If Minnesota goes through with refusing to play, NIU is next up: