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Minnesota football team to boycott bowl game over suspensions regarding sexual assault

Dec 16 (Reuters) - The University of Minnesota football team said they will boycott all squad activities, including a bowl game in San Diego this month, after 10 players were suspended in connection with a sexual assault investigation.

The announcement, made by players on Thursday night, has embroiled the university in a nationwide controversy over the handling of sex assault allegations on U.S. college campuses.

The 10 players were suspended earlier this week after the university investigated an alleged sexual assault in September following the team's first game of the season.

The university did not give a reason for the suspensions, citing privacy laws. The Star Tribune newspaper said on Thursday that five of the players face expulsion from the school, four face one-year suspensions and another probation.

RELATED: High profile sexual assault cases of 2016

4 PHOTOS
High profile sexual assault cases of 2016
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High profile sexual assault cases of 2016

Former Stanford student Brock Turner who was sentenced to six months in county jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious and intoxicated woman is shown in this Santa Clara County Sheriff's booking photo taken January 18, 2015, and received June 7, 2016.

(Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department/Handout)

Alec Cook is pictured in this undated booking photo. The University of Wisconsin-Madison student is accused of sexually assaulting several women.

(Madison Police Department/Handout)

 

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (C) arrives for a preliminary hearing on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania February 2, 2016. Cosby has been charged with the 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand, a former women's basketball team manager at Temple University in Philadelphia, Cosby's alma mater.

(REUTERS/Mark Makela)

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An attorney for the players did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

In a statement, senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky said the boycott will go on "until due process is followed and the suspensions for all ten players involved are lifted."

The players' move, he said, was an attempt to "take back the reputation and integrity of our program and our brothers that have faced unjust Title IX investigation without due process."

Last year, black football players at the University of Missouri refused to practice or play until the university president stepped down over his handling of reports of racial abuse on campus, which he did days after the players' refusal.

RELATED: Highest paid NCAA football coaches

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Highest paid NCAA football coaches
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Highest paid NCAA football coaches

#25 Dabo Swinney — $3.31 million

School: Clemson

Conference: ACC

School Salary: $3.30 million

Other Pay: $5,200

Potential Bonus: $1.13 million

Championships (conference/national)*: 1/0

One thing to know: Swinney is in line for a big pay day after guiding the Tigers to undefeated regular season and the No. 1 ranking for most of the season.

Entering the 2015 season

 (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

#24 Jim Mora — $3.35 million

School: UCLA 

Conference: Pac-12

School Salary: $3.35 million

Other Pay: $0

Potential Bonus: $0.93 million

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: After reports that he was interested in returning to the NFL prior to the season, Mora was quick to shoot those down, saying, "You know how those guys are. Sometimes they just make stuff up, and throw it out there, and see if it sticks."

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

#23 Chris Petersen — $3.40 million

School: Washington

Conference: Pac-12

School Salary: $3.40 million

Other Pay: $2,940

Potential Bonus: $1.18 million

Championships (conference/national): 5/0

One thing to know: Washington lured Peterson away from Boise State in 2013 by making him the highest-paid coach in the Pac-12, a distinction he still holds. Earlier this season, Peterson returned to Boise to face the Broncos, something he called "awkward."

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

#22 Butch Jones — $3.63 million

School: Tennessee

Conference: SEC

School Salary: $3.61 million

Other Pay: $23,000

Potential Bonus: $1.00 million

Championships (conference/national): 4/0

One thing to know: Despite already being under contract through 2018, the Vols gave Jones an extension at the end of the 2014 season that now has him under contract through 2020.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

#21 Mike Gundy — $3.65 million

School: Oklahoma State

Conference: Big 12

School Salary: $3.65 million

Other Pay: not reported

Potential Bonus: $0.55 million

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: Mike Gundy is still a coach at Oklahoma State, but he's not 40 anymore (he's 48).

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

#20 Mark Dantonio — $3.67 million

School: Michigan State

Conference: Big Ten

School Salary: $3.67 million

Other Pay: $0

Potential Bonus: $0.65 million

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Despite all his success and a championship contender this season, Dantonio is just the fifth-highest-paid coach in the Big Ten.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

#19 Gary Patterson — $3.94 million

School: Texas Christian

Conference: Big 12

School Salary: $3.94 million

Other Pay: not reported

Potential Bonus: not reported

Championships (conference/national): 6/0

One thing to know: When Patterson took over TCU in 2000, they were in the WAC conference. Since then, they have moved to Conference USA, the Mountain West, and now into an annual championship contender as a member of one of the lucrative Power-5 conferences, the Big 12. 

 (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

#18 Bret Bielema — $3.96 million

School: Arkansas

Conference: SEC

School Salary: $3.95 million

Other Pay: $6,500

Potential Bonus: $1.00 million

Championships (conference/national): 3/0

One thing to know: Bielema averaged 10 wins per year at Wisconsin. In his first two seasons at Arkansas he averaged five wins. Despite that, Arkansas gave him an extension prior to this season that will go through the 2020 season.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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Minnesota's Golden Gophers are scheduled to play Washington State in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27.

University president Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle in a statement acknowledged there was "a lot of confusion and frustration," but reiterated that student privacy prevented them from commenting further.

On Wednesday, Kaler said the need to suspend the 10 players was "incredibly disappointing."

"Unfortunately, these types of situations are difficult for the university because we are limited in what we can say," Kaler said in a statement. "While we strive to be transparent in all that we do, the fact is that, under the law, our students have privacy rights that we value and respect."

According to the Star Tribune, a woman accused multiple players of sexually assaulting her at an off-campus apartment. Local prosecutors said in October that they declined to bring charges because of "insufficient, admissible evidence." (Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Bernard Orr)


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