Nine unnamed Minnesota players sue school for discrimination

10 players were suspended before Minnesota’s Holiday Bowl appearance in 2016. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
10 players were suspended before Minnesota’s Holiday Bowl appearance in 2016. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Nine black current and former Minnesota football players have sued the school for racial and gender discrimination following a 2016 sexual misconduct investigation.

According to the Associated Press, the players are not named in the filing.

The lawsuit argues that the university turned the nine black players into scapegoats to appease federal authorities and deflect scrutiny over the school’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against white men in the athletics department.

Minnesota suspended 10 players before the 2016 Holiday Bowl following the school’s investigation. The suspensions came after four players were suspended at the beginning of the season following a sexual assault accusation by a female student.

The female student got a restraining order against Ray Buford, KiAnte Hardin, Tamarion Johnson and Dior Johnson after her allegation. She later dropped the restraining order. Those are the same four players who were suspended at the beginning of the season and were also suspended again for the Holiday Bowl.

None of the accused players were charged after prosecutors cited a lack of evidence. The woman had said she was “frozen in fear” during the alleged assault and that she was assaulted by multiple men.

The suspensions before the Holiday Bowl led to a brief boycott of team activities by Minnesota players. The players boycotted from Dec. 15-17 before resuming preparations for the Holiday Bowl. They were supported by coach Tracy Claeys, who was removed from his position at the end of the year and replaced by P.J. Fleck.

In February, a school appeals panel recommended the expulsion of Buford, Hardin, Johnson and Johnson while clearing Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield Jr. of any wrongdoing. A suspension for Carlton Djam was reduced to one year and a one-year suspension for Mark Williams was upheld.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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