University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler, athletic director Mark Coyle and player representatives worked late Friday night to find a way to end a boycott of football activities by student-athletes. Had the boycott continued much longer indicators pointed to the Gophers pulling out of their commitment to play the Holiday Bowl game scheduled for December 27th. Numerous sources confirmed that an agreement had been reached.
The boycott by players was a reaction to the suspension of ten players connected with allegations of sexual assault. While the suspensions remain in place, agreement to end the boycott came about because of a pledge by the university that the student-athletes involved would receive a fair hearing by the school conduct board.
Part of the outcome from the team boycott was to lift the school suspension of the ten players connected to the alleged assault. That wasn't part of the resolution to return Gopher players to football operations.
Following the conclusion of the meeting between players and university officials, players released the following statement:
“As a team, we understand that what has occurred these past few days, and playing football for the University of Minnesota, is larger than just us. ...
“We now ask that you, the members of the media, our fans, and the general public hold all of us accountable for ensuring that our teammates are treated fairly, along with any and all victims of sexual assault. We also ask that the public dialogue related to the apparent lack of due process in a university system is openly discussed and evaluated.
“As football players, we know that we represent this University and this state and that we are held to a higher standard. We want to express our deepest gratitude to our coaching staff and so many others for their support during this difficult time, and we hope that our fans and community understand why we took the actions that we did.
“Our thoughts and prayers are for the well-being of the woman involved in the original incident, and for our 10 teammates to ensure that they are treated fairly. We look forward to representing the University of Minnesota and the state of Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl in a way that makes all of you proud.”
Along with the potential tarnishing of the Minnesota's reputation, the economic ramifications from not participating in the Holiday Bowl would have been significant.
Here's more on this story from USAToday.
Cooler heads have prevailed to avoid a rarely occurring situation in college football.
Mike Leach has held team practice sessions as though there was never a doubt Wazzu would be headed to San Diego to play. Leach and his staff are working to have the Cougars prepared to come away with a victory in their final game of the season and earn back-to-back nine win seasons.