The University of Minnesota’s football team announced on Saturday that they would end the boycott they initiated after ten of their team members were suspended in connection with a sexual assault.
Their decision to play in the Holiday Bowl Game came after the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action released an 80-page report on Friday detailing the gang rape of a female student on September 2. The report describes how the female student was too intoxicated to consent and was assaulted by multiple men on the football team. The incident involved 12 Minnesota football players and 10 of those players were found responsible for violating the student conduct codes involving Harm to Person, Sexual Misconduct and Violation of University Rules.
Before the report was released, and without inquiring into the details of the assault, the University of Minnesota football team decided to boycott as a response to their teammates suspension, refusing to play in the Holiday Bowl on December 27th unless the suspensions were dismissed.
The boycott was led by the team’s captain Drew Wolitarski, who embraced the rhetoric of Donald Trump, saying he wanted to “make our program great again” by supporting his “brothers” who were “falsely accused.”
The University’s President Eric Kaler and Athletic Direct Mark Coye declared they would not submit to the team’s protests, upholding that the school’s values were more important than their participation in the Holiday Bowl.
The boycott evoked outrage among activists and sexual assault survivors. Protests erupted around the University of Minnesota’s campus where students came together to show their support for survivors. Sports Columnist Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post remarked that there “are a million good social-justice causes over which a major college football team could boycott. This isn’t one.” Jenkins said that boycotting the suspensions shows the team does not “recognize that women on campuses face an epidemic of sexual crime”.