The Minnesota Golden Gophers are in the middle of an ugly sexual assault scandal that won’t go away no matter what decision they make. Earlier this week, they decided to fire coach Tracy Claeys who supported a boycott by his players after some of their teammates were suspend as the result of a Title IX investigation.
After the school refused to reinstate the players, the boycott was ended, the Golden Gophers won their bowl game, and Claeys was fired.
After sitting in a meeting with Minnesota president Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle, Minnesota Board of Regents chairman Dean Johnson decided to go with the decision those he put in charge had come to. A tough decision, and one that is drawing a lot of opinions.
Following the announcement of the boycott, Claeys posted on Twitter that he was proud of his players for doing what they felt was right. This later drew criticism from those who felt he was not being sensitive to victims of sexual assault; he donated $50,000 to charity and issued an apology for his “poor choice of words.”
The decision to fire the coach has drawn both sharp criticism and been lauded as a step in the direction progress.
With the majority of players unhappy with the administration, many eligible players are expected to declare for the draft. Meanwhile, athletic director Mark Coyle now must find the replacement for a coach who had the team headed in the right direction and who had won a bowl game in his first two seasons.
But the university feels it did what was right; it stood for something bigger then college football with the decision it made. Coyle said the program was in need of “integrity and class” and that he hopes “to find a coach that shares that commitment to excellence academically, athletically and socially.”
The turnover is likely just beginning in Minnesota.