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Tim Wolfe Resigns as Missouri President Amid Protests, Boycott by Football Team

University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe participates in a news conference Friday, April 11, 2014, in Rolla, Mo. The news conference was held to discuss an outside legal review of the university's response to a case involving school swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, who killed herself 16 months after an alleged off-campus rape by as many as three football players in February 2010.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) hs after an alleged off-campus rape by as many as three football players in February 2010.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2015

A day after saying he would not resign amid racial tensions on campus, Missouri President Tim Wolfe has had a change of heart.

According to David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Wolfe announced his resignation Monday, effective immediately, after days of protests and the threat of a boycott from the Missouri football team.

"My motivation in making this decision comes from love," Wolfe said in a statement, per Morrison. "I love MU and the state of Missouri, where I grew up."

Later on Monday, Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also announced his resignation, effective the end of this year, per KOMU 8 News.

After Wolfe and Loftin's resignations, Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades said the boycott was "in no way an ideal way to evoke change," per Brett McMurphy of ESPN.

However, a group of Missouri football players addressed the media, saying, "This should be a testament to athletes across the country; you do have power," per Robert Klemko of TheMMQB.com. 

Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shared the scene from campus in the immediate aftermath of the announcement:

The university has not said who will take over on an interim basis. Wolfe came under fire in recent days after student Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike on Nov. 2 aimed at getting the school president removed. Butler was motivated by multiple instances of racism on campus he felt were not properly handled by university administration.

"I already feel like campus is an unlivable space," Butler told Michael E. Miller of the Washington Post. "So it's worth sacrificing something of this grave amount, because I'm already not wanted here. I'm already not treated like I'm a human."

Emma Vandelinder of the Missourian posted a timeline that depicts a Missouri campus with ever-increasing racial tensions. Incidents this fall alone included multiple students posting about being called racial slurs on campus and an unknown person painting a swastika in human feces on a bathroom wall.

A student group, Concerned Student 1950, has been protesting the incidents with increased fervor over the past month. In October, the group blocked a car carrying Wolfe on homecoming weekend. There have also been near-constant demonstrations on campus without much action from administration. 

The situation crested over the weekend when the Missouri football team pledged solidarity and was planning to boycott all activities until Wolfe resigned or was removed from his post.

"The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'" a statement from the Legion of Black Collegians read. "We will no longer participate in any football-related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experience."

When asked about his team's stance, head coach Gary Pinkel said, per SportsCenter, "I didn't look at consequences. It was about supporting my players. ... I did the right thing."

Some faculty members joined the cause Monday by boycotting their own classes before news of Wolfe's resignation became public. A group called Concerned Faculty released a statement, per Kelly Stevenson of ABC News:

We, the concerned faculty of the University of Missouri, stand in solidarity with the Mizzou student activists who are advocating for racial justice on our campus and urge all MU faculty to demonstrate their support by walking out on Monday November 9 and Tuesday November 10, 2015 along with other allies such as the Forum on Graduate Rights.

Missouri running back Trevon Walters confirmed the team will resume football activities immediately, per Morrison. The Tigers host BYU on Saturday. Pinkel also said the team will meet Monday night and then go back to "business as usual," via Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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