University of Minnesota football players on Saturday announced that they were ending their boycott of football activities, a boycott that they earlier suggested would extend to refusing to play in the Holiday Bowl.
The football players said they were boycotting to protest the suspension of 10 players on the team. The university did not announce a reason for the suspensions, but they are believed to be related to a sex assault investigation in which police declined to bring charges. A series of documents that have come out since the boycott started show that the university's investigation found that some suspended players violated rules barring sexual assault and others violated rules against sexual harassment.
Eric W. Kaler (right), president of the university, met with players after they declared their boycott but insisted that he would not reverse the suspensions, citing the importance of university "values" that may extend beyond legal standards of what constitutes criminal conduct.
In a statement released Friday, Kaler said, "One of my jobs as president is to put our institutional values at the forefront of all we do and ensure our actions are aligned with those values. This principle is far more important than any football game and the university community as a whole, and it is more important than any single athletic team. Some of the values that we hold, as a community, include: every member of the university community deserves to be treated with respect. Our student-athletes are important representatives of the university, and when they wear the M, they are held to a high standard of conduct. When the expectations for conduct are not met, there are consequences."
A statement from the football team announcing the end of the boycott started by declaring that "sexual harassment and violence against women have no place on this campus, on our team, in our society and at no time is it condoned." While the statement said the team members continue to have concerns about due process and "a lack of communication," it added that it has become clear the suspensions will not be lifted. The football players' statement said they were ending their boycott based on assurances that the suspended players would receive due process, and that support would be shown for the "character" of "the great majority" of players.
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