Teams & Conferences

Minnesota Players Boycotting Football Activities, Possibly Holiday Bowl

Minnesota Players To Boycott Football Activities And Possibly The Holiday Bowl


The University of Minnesota football team suspended ten players, and now the other players are boycotting football activities until it gets some more answers. 


Contact @PeteFiutak

Statement from Mark Neville, Executive Director, National Funding Holiday Bowl:

“We are continuing to prepare for the National Funding Holiday Bowl on December 27, however, we are aware of the situation at the University of Minnesota and are monitoring it closely.”

And the controversy comes from …

A University of Minnesota female student accused several Golden Gopher players of an alleged sexual assault back in early September. None of the players were arrested or charged following a police investigation, but following an internal school investigation, ten players, including starting CB KiAnte Hardin, starting S Antoine Winfield Jr., backup CB Antonio Shenault and backup RB Kobe McCrary were suspended this week. Now the rest of the team wants to know why.

The Minnesota Golden Gopher players have united behind suspended teammates

Three Minnesota football leaders – QB Mitch Leidner, WR Drew Wolitarsky, and TE Duke Anyanwu – were backed by most of the rest of the team, announcing a boycott of football activities in preparation for the National Funding Holiday Bowl until they can get more answers from the school.

From starting LB Jonathan Celestin …

Head coach Tracy Claeys tweeted …

And now what?

Will the Gophers really boycott the Holiday Bowl? What will the bowl do if the entire team chooses not to play? The players are now putting themselves out there on a limb for their fellow teammates, and Claeys is now really on the line, but all sides are apparently open to discussing the entire situation and want to work this out. First, the players are demanding a closed-door meeting with the Board of Regents to find out more. That might not be so easy.

Various privacy laws will prevent school President Eric Kaler and other administrators from saying much more than they already have to the players, or to anyone, but for the moment, everything is still open.

“We want to continue an open dialogue with our players and will work to do that over the coming days,” said Kaler. “It’s important that we continue to work together as we move through this difficult time.”

To be horribly crass, what does this mean on the football side?

Let’s say Minnesota chooses to play, but without the suspended players. Most of the missing Gophers aren’t a part of the mix, but losing Hardin, Winfield and Shenault would be a big deal for the Minnesota secondary that has to deal with Luke Falk and the high-powered Washington State passing game. As is, the team isn’t practicing – that’s obviously not a plus.

And if the team really and truly chooses not to play? There’s no contingency plan at the moment. The Holiday Bowl is scheduled for December 27th.