Saturday, September 22, 2018

Minnesota governor: 'A bad black eye'

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota's president said the football team had declined an invitation to meet with him and the athletic director Friday, a day after players pledged to boycott a bowl game unless the university lifted suspensions of 10 teammates related to a sexual-assault investigation.

President Eric W. Kaler also said in a statement the suspensions were the result of an "Athletics Department decision based on values" and not a direct consequence of the players' violation of the university's code of conduct.

The Golden Gophers are set to meet Washington State in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said the situation was "a bad black eye" for the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, and urged Kaler to meet with the team.

Prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges, and the players thought the matter was closed. But a school investigation concluded the athletes violated a policy that defines sexual assault as anything without a "clear and unambiguous" expression of consent.

On Thursday, the entire team gathered to say it will not practice or play unless the suspensions are revoked. Several players also are facing expulsion.

"All these kids' reputations are destroyed," senior quarterback Mitch Leidner said. "Their names are destroyed. It's extremely difficult to get back, and it's very unfair. … That's why we're sticking together through this thing."

Sexual misconduct already had been a sensitive subject for the school. Former athletic director Norwood Teague resigned last year amid allegations of sexual harassment. His replacement, Mark Coyle, was brought in with orders not to tolerate such behavior and was key in the decision to suspend the players.

University officials have declined to say why the players were suspended, citing student privacy rules. But an attorney for several of the suspended players and the father of one confirmed the action was taken in connection with an alleged sexual assault in the early hours of Sept. 2.

According to police reports, court testimony and a university report, the woman who accused the players drank five to six shots of vodka on the night of Sept. 1 before heading out of her apartment with her roommates. She said she attended a few parties before ending up in the off-campus apartment of players Carlton Djam and Tamarion Johnson. The reports said she accompanied Djam and a underage football recruit whose name was redacted to Djam's room, where she had sex with them.

After the recruit left, she said, Johnson entered the room and she had sex with him, too. She said she remembered seeing several people watching. "She described it as a line of people, like they were waiting for their turn. … She recalls yelling for them to stop sending people in the room," one of the reports said.

The woman said she recalled at least three other men forcing themselves on her, including players Dior Johnson and Ray Buford Jr. She told police the sexual contact between her and Djam and the recruit might have been consensual but the contact she had with the others was not consensual.

She said she was not sure if she had sex with player KiAnte Hardin. He told police they did and she agreed to it. The men all told police the sex was consensual.

About an hour and a half later, she said, she was allowed to leave. She called her sister, who told her to go to the hospital immediately, where she was given a rape exam, while her mother made a report to police.

The school's policy says consent may be initially given but can be withdrawn at any time and that "sexual activity must stop" at that point or even if there is confusion over consent.

Djam recorded video of part of his encounter with the woman and turned it over to police.

CARDINALS SUSPEND OC: Louisville suspended Lonnie Galloway for the Citrus Bowl after a review of how the co-offensive coordinator handled Wake Forest game plans he received from fired Demon Deacons broadcaster Tommy Elrod. Athletic director Tom Jurich announced Galloway's suspension after reviewing Galloway's receipt and handling of inside information from Elrod. Jurich said the information shouldn't have been shared by Wake Forest, nor should it have been received "by anyone at the University of Louisville."

ALABAMA: Another former USC head coach was hired as offensive coordinator, with Steve Sarkisian replacing Lane Kiffin. Sarkisian will also coach quarterbacks. Kiffin, who this week accepted the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic, will run the offense through the playoffs.

LSU: Running back Leonard Fournette will sit out the Citrus Bowl matchup against Louisville, a decision that ends his highlight-filled collegiate career.

Basketball: Davon Reed scored 21 and tied his career high by making 5 of 9 3-pointers to lead host Miami (8-2) over Florida Atlantic 76-56.

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