Players for the University of Minnesota’s football team announced on Thursday that they will boycott future games after ten of their fellow teammates were suspended following an investigation into a sexual-assault case. “We’re concerned that our brothers have been named publicly with reckless disregard in violation of their constitutional rights,” Drew Wolitarsky, the team’s senior wide receiver, said in a prepared statement, according to the university’s newspaper the Minnesota Daily. “This effort is by players, and for players.”
The solidarity among teammates highlights the complexity at play in how universities handle sexual-assault cases while respecting the privacy and rights of the accused and the accuser. Prosecutors have not brought formal charges against any of the teammates, but on Tuesday university officials suspended ten football players indefinitely without much detail as to exactly why. A father of one of the suspended players, however, told ABC News that the suspensions resulted from an investigation conducted by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action into an alleged sexual assault on September 3.
To understand the apparent frustration the football players are feeling, it’s worthwhile to go over the timeline of the case. Following the report of the assault, Tracy Claeys, the football coach, suspended four football players for “violating team rules,” according to the Minnesota Daily. Those players were then investigated by the Minnesota Police Department, and weeks later, no charges were filed and the suspensions subsequently were lifted. What followed in the weeks after was a series of restraining orders from the alleged victim against the football players. At this point, the number of players implicated totals six and all have restraining orders against them. By November 2, however, five restraining orders were dropped (one had previously been dropped, separately) and the parties reach a settlement with terms requiring the players to stay at least 20 feet away from the alleged victim. On November 5, the players return to play the remainder of the season. It’s not until December 13 that the university announces the indefinite suspension of ten football players. Those players, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, are Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Antonio Shenault, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams, Seth Green, and Antoine Winfield Jr.