Minnesota is set to play Washington State in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 but there are suddenly questions about whether there will be any Gophers left to take the field down in San Diego.
The school indefinitely suspended 10 players from the team on Tuesday, several for the second time this year, for unspecific ‘violations of team rules.’ According to the Star Tribune, the rest of the team is taking action against the suspensions and have gone to school leaders threatening a boycott of the Holiday Bowl as a result of the actions.
The Gophers had a players-only meeting Thursday and later brought in head coach Tracy Claeys to inform him of their plans, sources said. According to two parents of players, all of the team’s players are planning a united announcement Thursday evening to say they will boycott the Holiday Bowl if “their demands are not met” — a reference to their disagreement with the decision to suspend the 10 players.
Five of those 10 football players suspended from the team now face expulsion from school, the players’ attorney, Lee Hutton, said Wednesday night. Four other players face a one-year suspension and another could get probation stemming from the Sept. 2 incident. The school discipline comes weeks after a criminal investigation resulted in no arrests or charges.
The incident in question is an alleged sexual assault that happened not long after the team’s first game of the season.
It will be interesting to see how Claeys handles things given everything at play and the fact that the fate of the 10 players in questions is likely out of his hands. We’ve seen college players threaten to boycott events before without following through but it appears that the situation is certainly not slowing down anytime soon in the Twin Cities.
The school is bound to address the reports at some point between now and the end of the month but if not, the Holiday Bowl might be one of the more must-see postseason games this year — but for all the wrong reasons.