Minnesota Players Boycotting Holiday Bowl over Suspended Players

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 28:  A detailed view of the Big Ten logo painted on the field prior to the Quick Lane Bowl between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Central Michigan Chippewas at Ford Field on December 28, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Minnesota defeated Central Michigan 21-14.  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

After 10 players were indefinitely suspended, the Minnesota football team will boycott its upcoming bowl game against Washington State.

Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News reported the players want a meeting with the Board of Regents without the presence of school president Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle, adding that the boycott will remain in place until suspensions are lifted.

Kaler and Coyle released a statement on the situation, per Marcus R. Fuller of the Star Tribune:

Kaler released a second statement on the proposed boycott on Friday, per Chris Long of KSTP:

Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported Northern Illinois would be next in line for the Holiday Bowl if Minnesota follows through with its boycott and "likely would play" if a decision is reached in the next 48 hours.

On Friday, Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune reported the University of Minnesota is likely to back out of the Holiday Bowl after a late-night meeting involving Minnesota football players and school officials, including the school's president, did not result in an agreement to play in the contest. Christensen reported the deadline for Minnesota to make a decision is noon on Saturday.

Per Christensen, the decision to threaten a boycott of the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 came following a players-only meeting, after which the team shared its plans with head coach Tracy Claeys.

Christensen reported the Gophers indefinitely suspended Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, Seth Green, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr. on Dec. 13. 

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In September, Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press reported four Minnesota playersHardin, Buford, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnsonwere being investigated following an alleged sexual assault that took place Sept. 2.

On Friday, Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune reported an underage football recruit was also involved in the alleged Sept. 2 incident. A police report revealed the recruit said he had sex with the woman, but denied the rape allegations, according to Stahl.

The team suspended the four players ahead of its Sept. 10 game against Indiana State. They wound up missing three games before being reinstated when the Hennepin County attorney’s office declined to press charges.

In October 2015, the Star Tribune reported multiple Minnesota football players had been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation over the last year, with none of the allegations resulting in criminal charges.

Lee Hutton, the players' attorney, said five players are facing expulsion, four are facing a one-year suspension and one could be facing probation following the university's investigation, per Christensen.

Minnesota went 8-4 during the regular season and would be appearing in its fifth straight bowl game.