Tim Wolfe Resigns as Missouri President After Boycott by Football Team

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured Columnist

A cheerleader carries the Missouri flag across Faurot Field as the team rushes onto the field before the start of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

UM System President Tim Wolfe has resigned after a boycott from University of Missouri football players amid a string of racial incidents across the campus.

Wolfe confirmed his resignation Monday, saying, "My motivation in making this decision comes from love," per David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune. "I love MU and the state of Missouri, where I grew up."

Prior to Wolfe's resignation, Missouri's Legion of Black Collegians posted a statement on the team's behalf—the team was not in action Saturday—along with a picture of players unified in support of the boycott:

LBC @MizzouLBC

We are no longer taking it. It's time to fight. #ConcernedStudent1950 #MizzouHungerStrike https://t.co/mnPZBviqJF

"It's about more than just football for me and my team," Missouri safety Thomas Wilson tweeted.

Senior captain Ian Simon added his thoughts as well:

Ian_21nfz @Ian_21ydh

An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. Together we can make a difference #ConcernedStudent1950 #AllLivesMatter

Morrison provided a statement from University of Missouri spokesman Chad Moller:

David Morrison @DavidCMorrison

Statement from MU spokesman Chad Moller: https://t.co/vzClRe5b8B

On Sunday, head coach Gary Pinkel tweeted an image and statement, which Moller referenced in a statement as well, per Morrison:

Coach Gary Pinkel @GaryPinkel

The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950 GP https://t.co/fMHbPPTTKl

David Morrison @DavidCMorrison

When asked if team pic means staff supports the boycott, Moller said "you saw the picture."

Missouri athletics went on to confirm the team did not practice Sunday, and "no activities will be held" until Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler's hunger strike ends, per Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune. Butler had been protesting Wolfe's status as president.  

"During this hunger strike, I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost," Butler wrote, according to the Missourian's Emma VanDelinder.

"As much as we want to say everyone is united, half the team and coaches—black and white—are pissed," the player, who wished to remain anonymous, told ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy prior to Wolfe's resignation. "If we were 9-0, this wouldn't be happening."

McMurphy added, "The player, who is white, spoke on the condition of anonymity because coaches told the team not to talk to the media as they thought the situation 'would blow over eventually.'"

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon also addressed the situation in a statement Sunday (via Austin Kim of ABC 17):

Racism and intolerance have no place at the University of Missouri or anywhere in our state. Our colleges and universities must be havens of trust and understanding. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion.

VanDelinder provided a comprehensive timeline of the tension, which reportedly escalated after racial slurs were directed toward the school's student association president and members of the Legion of Black Collegians.

According to the Missourian's Kasia Kovacs, student organization Concerned Student 1950 met with Wolfe at the end of October but was not satisfied with the president's response to its demands.

A statement from Concerned Student 1950 read as follows, per Kovacs:

Wolfe verbally acknowledged that he cared for Black students at the University of Missouri, however he also reported he was "not completely" aware of systemic racism, sexism and patriarchy on campus. Not understanding these systems of oppression therefore renders him incapable of effectively performing his core duties.

An article by the Nation's Dave Zirin indicated Missouri's boycott was not unheard of.

Players at Grambling State University protested poor working conditions in 2013, and before that, members of the Howard University football team boycotted a game because of the school's inability to provide them with food. Zirin also pointed to episodes at Howard, BYU and the University of Washington in the 1960s and 1970s.