Minnesota's Holiday Bowl outlook appears to becoming messier by the minute

THE MESS THAT is the University of Minnesota's football program -- and its cloudy outlook for the Holiday Bowl game with Washington State on Dec. 27 -- has drawn in the governor of the state, appeals to players from the school president and AD, and a powerful column from the Washington Post stating that sexual assault is hardly the issue players should be using to take a stand on due process. A leaked EOAA report also paints a sickening picture of what transpired.

Here is a smattering of what's being written and said in the wake of UM players threatening to boycott the Holiday Bowl unless 10 suspended teammates are reinstated ...

Odds dwindling that Gophers will be in Holiday Bowl

The University of Minnesota football players’ boycott likely will force the school on Saturday to back out of its Holiday Bowl commitment. A late-night summit on the U campus involving school President Eric Kaler, other school leaders and most Gophers football players failed to produce an agreement, putting the players’ boycott in position to wipe out their trip to San Diego for the bowl game.

Finding bowl replacement for Minnesota presents problems

Associated Press -- Replacing Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl on short notice would be a logistical nightmare, from rounding up players who have already gone home for the holidays to figuring out how to feed them once they are in California. Minnesota players are boycotting team activities in protest over the university's decision to suspend 10 players for its upcoming Holiday Bowl appearance against Washington State after an internal school investigation into an alleged sexual assault. No criminal charges were filed in the case. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler released a statement Friday saying that the players would remain suspended and it planned to let bowl organizers know "soon" if the team would be participating.

Gopher players chose wrong issue on which to make a stand

Washington Post -- A college football team finally has recognized its power and leverage over campus administrators, but for a queasy-making cause: solidarity over an unprosecuted allegation of multiple sexual assaults. The Minnesota Gophers are demanding that 10 accused “brothers” who have been suspended by the university for misconduct be reinstated or they will sit out the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27. There is something jarring about this, some missing sensibility. What’s missing is any recognition that campus officials have the right to hold students to a higher standard than simply being non-felons.

Anyone who follows news about sexual assaults on campuses is surely frustrated by the extreme pendulum swings between inaction and false accusation. The Florida State, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Baylor administrations reportedly discounted victims’ stories and sheltered athletes from consequences, while at Duke and Virginia false accusers and botched investigations tarred the innocent. It’s extraordinarily difficult to know where the Minnesota case falls, for the simple reason that these cases are a nightmare to adjudicate. On those grounds alone, the Gophers get an F in civics for their boycott. What’s known is this: Police and prosecutors decided that the case did not meet the burden of criminal proof, but the campus Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigators nevertheless recommended discipline against 10 players for violating student conduct standards, and the players were suspended by Athletic Director Mark Coyle and President Eric Kaler.

UM President and AD issue statements late Friday: suspensions stand

Minnesota Daily -- University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler released a statement Friday evening in the wake of the Gophers football team's boycott, followed by an open letter to student-athletes co-authored by Athletics Director Mark Coyle. Here is an excerpt from Kaler: “Out of respect to the Holiday Bowl Committee, we should let them know soon whether we intend to carry through with our acceptance of their invitation. I am hopeful that members of our football team will meet with us before then, so we can have a dialogue about an issue that is clearly important to them and the University community as a whole. While the 10 players are suspended from active participation in the football program, they remain members of the team and students at the University of Minnesota.”

Difficult for Northern Illinois to replace Minnesota; Cal, ASU in line?

If Northern Illinois would decline the bowl invitation, it’s possible that the next two teams on the list — Cal and Arizona State — also decline the trip since they both have already played Washington State and wouldn’t be able to take advantage of many extra practices. All of which is to say that the Holiday Bowl may wind up having a much different look at the end of the month than it did at the beginning.

Governor: Gophers football boycott and U incident a bad black eye for state

Minneapolis Star Tribune -- Gov. Mark Dayton called the University of Minnesota’s latest athletics controversy — the alleged sexual assault by football players and the team’s boycott of all team activities — “a bad black eye” for Minnesota. Dayton told reporters Friday that while he doesn’t have all the facts, he has told university President Eric Kaler he wants Kaler to meet with the players, who are refusing to play and putting the school’s commitment to the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl at risk.

Holiday Bowl in legitimate jeopardy

CBSsports -- There are significant logistical issues as to whether the Holiday Bowl could even be played if Minnesota follows through with its planned boycott, sources told CBS Sports.Northern Illinois, which is next in line in the bowl pecking order to play Washington State on Dec. 27 in San Diego if the Gophers' boycott continues through the bowl game -- hasn't played in three weeks. One official associated with the process pointed out that school at NIU has been out since early December and holiday plans have been made by players

80-Page Report Outlines U of M Investigation into Gophers Football Players

KSTP-TV -- The University of Minnesota authored an 80-page report after conducting an investigation into 12 Gophers football players. University officials have said they cannot comment on their rationale for the discipline 10 players received due to privacy restrictions. However, the basis for their decision is laid out in a confidential EOAA report obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Underage Gopher football recruit involved in alleged sexual misconduct

Minneapolis Star Tribune: An underage football recruit was involved in the alleged sexual misconduct on Sept. 2 that led to the suspension of 10 University of Minnesota players, according to police records, court testimony and a University report. The recruit acknowledged having sex with the woman that morning, but denied raping her, according to a police report.

In court testimony and police interviews, the alleged victim, a university student, claimed that the recruit and at least a dozen other men raped her. The Hennepin County attorney’s office announced in October there would be no charges in the case. As part of the school policy for student-athlete visits, the university has a prohibition against “use of sexual activity as a recruiting device.”




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