Ahead of their Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl matchup against Washington State in San Diego, players from the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team announced plans Thursday night to boycott “all football activities”.
Canyon High School graduate and Minnesota senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky addressed reporters on the team’s behalf , and said the team made the decision after the university suspended 10 players indefinitely Tuesday.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the suspensions are tied to a sexual assault investigation. Wolitarsky is not one of the suspended players.
Some of the suspended players were directly accused by a female student in the alleged September sexual assault, according to the Star-Tribune, which added that the involvement of others is unclear.
A criminal investigation led to no arrests or charges, according to the Star-Tribune.
“The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed and the suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted,” Wolitarsky told reporters in a prepared statement. “This decision for the players to take this stance is not easy, but important to preserve the integrity of the program and ourselves.”
Players also asked that the Holiday Bowl committee and Washington State be patient with the team. Wolitarsky said the team made the decision to boycott football activities after a meeting Wednesday with Mark Coyle, Minnesota’s athletic director, left the players’ questions unanswered.
“They were just found not-guilty by the law,” Wolitarsky told reporters. “When we had questions for him, he basically told us he didn’t have answers. That led us to believe that was kind of unjust. He has the power to reverse this, and he won’t.
“Kids were this close to going to prison for things they didn’t do.”
Players told reporters the team made the decision after seeing the hit their suspended teammates’ reputations are taking in light of the suspensions.
The Gophers would like to play in the Holiday Bowl, Wolitarsky said, but they won’t play until the suspensions are overturned and the players’ demands are met.
“This is a day-by-day boycott until our requirements are met,” Wolitarsky said.
A joint statement issued by President Eric Kaler and Coyle on Thursday night said the school’s decision was “based on facts and is reflective of the university’s values.”
“We understand that a lot of confusion and frustration exists as a result of this week’s suspension of ten Gopher football players from all team activities,” the statement read. “The reality is that not everyone can have all of the facts, and unfortunately the university cannot share more information due to federal laws regarding student privacy.”
Gophers coach Tracy Claeys tweeted his support for the players after they announced the boycott.
“Have never been more proud of our kids,” Claeys tweeted. “I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Valencia grad to play in East-West game
Tedric Thompson, a 2013 Valencia High School grad and senior defensive back with the Colorado Buffaloes, accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game earlier this week.
During his college career, Thompson has 13 interceptions, 210 total tackles, 155 solo tackles and one forced fumble. In 2016, Thompson has 58 tackles, including 40 solo tackles. He also had seven interceptions, including two in Colorado’s 27-22 win over Utah on Nov. 26, which sent Colorado to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Thompson will join three other Buffaloes who will also play defense in the game. Colorado will play former Big-12 foe Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 at 6 p.m. The East-West Shrine Game will take place Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg Fla., with kickoff at noon.