Minnesota players rip administration after coach firing, threaten to transfer
Mitch Leidner was one of the players speaking out against Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle
Even after ending its boycott, Minnesota's football team has apparently not gotten on the same page with athletic director Mark Coyle and the rest of the school's administration. Tracy Claeys was fired as the team's coach on Tuesday, and quarterback Mitch Leidner has been one of the first to offer a response from the players perspective.
"I don't know who would want to be a part of this program," Leidner told ESPN's Brett McMurphy.
Another unnamed underclassman told McMurphy, "We don't want to play for administration. Countless people will transfer if possible"
Minnesota underclassman: "Doesn't matter who coach is we don't want to play for administration. Countless people will transfer if possible"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 3, 2017
The football team threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl in support of 10 players who were indefinitely suspended by the university for their involvement with an alleged sexual assault at an off-campus apartment in September 2016. (After reading details of the incident and what their teammates were charged with, the players ended their boycott and played in the game.) The alleged victim, a gameday operations staffer, got a restraining order put in place that resulted in suspensions for four players, but the order was dropped and local authorities declined to press charges against any players.
However, the school found the players to be in violation of the code of conduct, and the 10 players were suspended. Claeys tweeted his support of the team in the boycott, a gesture that was "not helpful," according to Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle.
Coyle said in a statement released by the school cited the need for "strong leadership" to address "challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program." But he also cited Claeys' tweet and offered a lengthy explanation on the discipline process.
"I will say, as a general matter, athletic suspension decisions -- essentially a decision to bench a player -- are different from a prosecutor's decision to charge someone with a crime," Coyle said. "Different standards, different policies. An athletic suspension decision is also different from a panel decision whether there has been a student conduct code violation. Different standards, different policies.
"For example, we suspend student-athletes for attitude problems. We suspend student-athletes while criminal investigations are ongoing. We suspend student-athletes when University investigators present credible evidence of inappropriate conduct. What happens in a student conduct process is not for me to say. Like the U and all involved, I simply want a just and fair process. That is not determined by who prevails; if justice is done, then the University of Minnesota and the public win, no matter the outcome."
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