Minnesota players end boycott, resume practice for Holiday Bowl

Dr. Saturday
Minnesota players have ended their boycott of the Holiday Bowl. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Minnesota players have ended their boycott of the Holiday Bowl. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Minnesota football players ended their boycott Saturday morning and will begin preparation for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

The Gophers had been protesting the suspension of 10 players linked to a sexual assault allegation. The team was demanding the suspended players be reinstated immediately.

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Senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky read a team statement Saturday morning:

“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.”

The 10 players were suspended by the school for their alleged roles in a reported gang rape that occurred on Sept. 2. A female Minnesota student told police several men sexually assaulted her at a football player’s apartment. Five of the 10 accused players said they had consensual sex with the accuser.

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No criminal charges were filed, but a school investigation determined the players had violated university policy. Following the suspensions, the Gophers said they would not participate in team activities until the suspended players were reinstated.

Minnesota is scheduled to face Washington State in the Holiday Bowl and the Gophers are scheduled to leave for the game on Dec. 23.

“I’m thankful our football team came to a resolution and I’m happy we will be playing in Holiday Bowl vs. Washington State,” athletic director Mark Coyle said.

Added university president Eric Kaler: “We will judge (the suspended players) very fairly. I’m grateful the student athletes ended the boycott.”

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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