University of Minnesota football players boycotting to protest teammates’ suspensions

University of Minnesota football players are boycotting all football activities until the university president and athletic director apologize and revoke the suspensions of their teammates.

In a statement on Thursday read by Gophers’ senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky, the team said the boycott was in support of “our brothers that have faced an unjust Title IX investigation without due process.”

Title IX is the federal law that, in part, requires universities to investigate reports of sexual violence.

The players maintain they will not play until the suspensions are lifted. Minnesota faces Washington State on Dec. 27 in the National Funding Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

The suspended players are defensive back Ray Buford Jr; sophomore running back Carlton Djam; freshman quarterback Seth Green; sophomore defensive back KiAnte Hardin; redshirt freshman defensive back Dior Johnson; freshman defensive lineman Tamarion Johnson; junior running back Kobe McCrary; sophomore defensive back Antonio Shenault; freshman quarterback Mark Williams; and freshman defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr.

Athletic director Mark Coyle and university president Eric W. Kaler released a joint statement after the players' announcement that read: "We understand that a lot of confusion and frustration exists as a result of this week's suspension of 10 Gopher Football players from all team activities. 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.

"We fully support our Gopher football players and all of our student-athletes. Situations like this are always difficult, and the decision was made in consultation with and has the full support of President Eric Kaler. The decision was based on facts and is reflective of the University's values. We want to continue an open dialogue with our players and will work to do that over the coming days. It's important that we continue to work together as we move through this difficult time."

According to the police report, a female told officers she was drunk when she was sexually assaulted in Djam's apartment by several men on Sept. 2, including some of the suspended players. The woman 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. A police investigator who watched the video Djam took of the incident reported 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."

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