The football team at the University of Minnesota has threatened to boycott a second-tier bowl game after 10 of its players were suspended due to being accused of taking part in a September sexual assault.
Prosecutors said there was not sufficient enough evidence for them to file any criminal charges.
The football players had thought the incident was closed, but a separate investigation by the school concluded this week that the football players had violated a school policy that began last year, which defines sexual assault as anything that does not have an expression of consent that is clear and unambiguous.
Now, with fewer than two weeks to go before Minnesota plays in the Holiday Bowl on December 27 against Washington State, a team walkout is threatening to cancel the game.
Late this week, the entire Minnesota team met with reporters to say they are not practicing or playing in the game unless each of the 10 players has their suspensions lifted. A number of players are facing expulsion as well.
All the reputations of the players have been destroyed said Mitch Leidner the starting quarterback and their names are now equally destroyed. That is why the team decided to remain united against the suspensions.
On Friday, through a joint statement Minnesota President Eric Kaler as well as Mark Coyle the school’s athletic director called the suspension a decision that was values-based and not one of legal judgment.
Kaler and Coyle had met with some of the players on the team, said university officials as they attempt to find a common ground. However, no decisions were made related to the possible boycott.
Sexual misconduct at the university has been a very sensitive issue as well as for the athletics department. In August of 2015, the then AD resigned amidst allegations of sexual harassment.
He was replaced by Coyle, who was told not to tolerate that type of behavior. Coyle played an important role in the decision made by the school to suspend its players.
Officials at the school declined to give a reason why they suspended the players or provide details of the investigation that was carried out, citing privacy rules of students.
However, one attorney that represents a number of the players suspended and a father of one player confirmed the suspension was taken over the connection with a September 2 alleged sexual assault at an off-campus apartment.