Decisions come down for suspended Gophers football players

A University of Minnesota student conduct panel has rendered its decisions on the 10 Gophers football players suspended for violating the school's sexual harassment policy. Five of the suspensions have been upheld, 4 players have been cleared and one suspension has been reduced.

“Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield Jr. are very pleased to be vindicated by the panel’s rulings," said a statement from Lee Hutton, the attorney representing 9 of the players. "The allegations against them were unwarranted and could have greatly harmed their bright futures. They look forward to putting this incident behind them and moving ahead in their academic and athletic pursuits. The remaining student-athletes are very disappointed by the panel’s rulings and are exploring their options in consultation with their families.”

Carlton Djam told Fox 9 he has received a reduced suspension of one year.

The recommended punishments of expulsion for Ray Buford, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson and suspension for Mark Williams were upheld.

The hearings

The players and their attorneys attended two days of hearings on the matter that wrapped up one week ago.

On Thursday, Jan. 26 the female student reporting the incident was questioned. On Friday, Jan. 27 it was the players’ turns along with witnesses to support their claims that this was an entirely consensual event.

Appeal process

The players have 5 business days to appeal the decisions to the provost, and their accuser also has 5 days to appeal any decisions.

University of Minnesota statement

“We have received a number of inquiries about the football suspension matter. Please know that out of respect for the confidentiality of individuals involved in an athletic suspension, we can identify the existence of a suspension for individual student-athletes, but the law does not allow us to talk about further specifics about the events behind the suspensions. Title IX and other related proceedings are also confidential throughout the due process that the University's policies provide: EOAA investigation; OSCAI assessment; conduct code hearings; and any appeal to the Provost by any involved party.”

No criminal charges

The alleged sexual assault happened in early September. Criminal charges were never filed. The players faced a range of discipline from one year probation to suspension to expulsion following the university’s Title IX investigation.

The penalties, first announced in December, led to the mass boycott by the Gophers football team of their upcoming bowl game. The boycott that lasted only two days, ending after the players were fully briefed on what a university investigation had found.