Over the last couple weeks, the University of Minnesota football program has drawn a lot of attention for the suspension of 10 players involved in an alleged sexual assault. The story has snowballed to the point that now 400 “concerned citizens” have signed a petition stating the Golden Gophers should fire head coach Tracy Claeys.
After the original suspension of the 10 players, the football team announced it was planning on boycotting Minnesota’s National Funding Holiday Bowl appearance against Washington State on Tuesday. The boycott has since ended and the team will play Tuesday night, but the controversy around the program is still circulating.
Part of the reason why the issue is still lingering is no sanctions have been placed on the program and the petition for Claeys’ firing is gaining more and more traction.
The petition was launched on Monday, and while it focuses on the alleged sexual assault, its main focus is on a tweet from Claeys on December 15th. The tweet was posted hours after the team announced it would boycott the Holiday Bowl. Shockingly, it hasn’t been taken down yet:
Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world! 〽️
The boycott began partially because non-suspended players believed their suspended teammates were being denied due process by Minnesota’s Title IX office. Five of the 10 players suspended were never investigated by Hennepin County prosecutors or Minneapolis police.
However, when the university refused to take away the suspension, the players decided to end their boycott.
— Mike Hendrickson (@MHendrickson18) December 17, 2016
So let’s go back to the petition to fire Claeys. It states that Claeys’ tweet:
“Failed to mention or acknowledge the importance of respecting women. Further, it did not condemn violence, sexual assault or disrespect of women. We feel this is not at all acceptable.”
The petition has been sent to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and Athletic Director Mark Coyle. The writers of the petition also plan on sending it to the school’s board of trustees.
Joe Nathan is a Minnesota graduate and previously worked with student-athletes at his alma mater. He told ESPN the involvement of a recruit in the incident is also a reason to fire Claeys.
“The involvement of a recruit in this horrendous situation, in and of itself, is grounds for termination,” Nathan said. “The explicit language in his contract says he is in charge of recruiting and he is in charge of promoting moral integrity. He clearly failed to exercise the kind of leadership that is necessary.”
The petition has been signed by parents, teachers, and University of Minnesota alumni and the list keeps on growing. Claeys has since apologized for his tweet and told WCCO in Minneapolis he plans on donating $50,000 to support sexual assault victims.