Golden Gophers stand by their suspended teammates.
Last night Minnesota Golden Gophers football players announced that they're boycotting "all football activities", including the National Funding Holiday Bowl on December 27th, in the wake of the suspensions handed out to 10 teammates this week.
According to USA Today:
“The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed and the suspensions for all 10 players are lifted,” senior receiver Drew Wolitarsky said, reading from a prepared statement while flanked by all of his teammates. “We further request that (President Eric) Kaler and (athletic director Mark) Coyle (apologize) and demand that these leaders are held accountable for their actions. This decision for the players to take this stance is not easy, but important to preserve the integrity of the program and ourselves.”
The 10 players were reportedly suspended after an internal university investigation into an alleged sexual assault. The incident in question allegedly took place in September at an off-campus apartment, which initially led to three-game suspensions of four of the players, but now they are being benched again along with six of their teammates.
According to USA Today:
"According to police records, a woman told officers she was drunk when she was sexually assaulted in running back Carlton Djam’s apartment by several men on Sept. 3, 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, and an investigator who watched a video Djam took of the incident wrote that “she does not appear to be upset by the sexual activity and does not indicate that she wants it to stop … and the sexual contact appears entirely consensual.”"
Teammates of the 10 suspended players literally stood behind them yesterday as they spoke to the media on the practice facility turf.
“All these kids’ reputations are destroyed,” senior quarterback Mitch Leidner said. “Their names are destroyed. It’s extremely difficult to get back and it’s very unfair for them and that’s why we’re sticking together through this thing.”
They contend that if the punishment stands they will boycott the upcoming Holiday Bowl in San Diego against the Washington State Cougars. Their coach has shown support for them on twitter.
Check out some of the footage of yesterday's meeting with reporters below.
Statement from Minnesota president Eric Kaler and AD Mark Coyle about team boycott pic.twitter.com/5JLWAvhFmT— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) December 16, 2016
Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world! 〽️🏈— GoldenGopherHFC (@GoldenGopherHFC) December 16, 2016