MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Gophers football head coach Tracy Claeys came to his players’ defense Sunday night, amid outrage over the program’s handling of sexual assault allegations.
"You don't think it bothers me and my family to get messages saying I support rape. I'd never do that,” Claeys said at a press conference. "The boycott was around the due process. Period."
Claeys also wanted to clarify comments made on WCCO Radio earlier on Sunday morning. He said on Thursday, before they announced their boycott, he told the players he could lose his job over the issue. On Sunday night, he told reporters he has since been in communication with university leaders and he does not fear for his job.
"I don't worry about my job on a day-to-day basis. I never have,” Claeys said.
Ten players were suspended from the team on Tuesday following allegations of sexual assault in a Dinkytown apartment in September.
By Thursday, the rest of the Gopher football team said they were boycotting their bowl game unless due process was taken and the ten players were re-instated.
Claey’s took to Twitter that night to show his support for the players saying, “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!”
Two days later, after meeting with U of M leaders, the players announced they were returning to practice and cancelling the boycott. A move which many speculated was a direct reaction to the release of the University’s report on the alleged assault. The more than 80-page document outlined graphic details from that night in September. But, Claeys said the men were not motivated by the report.
"I'm not saying it didn't have some effect, but if it did it was very minimal effect in ending the boycott,” he said.
Claeys has promised to donate $50,000 to victims of sexual assault.