Minnesota players' boycott could affect lead up to Holiday Bowl

Minnesota football players announced Thursday night that they were boycotting all football activities in the wake of the suspension this week of 10 teammates.

While the school did not specify the reasons for the suspensions in Tuesday's announcement, Ray Buford Sr., the father of defensive back Ray Buford Jr., one of the suspended players, said Wednesday the suspensions resulted from an investigation conducted by the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action?into an alleged sexual assault, which was separate from earlier investigations into the alleged assault in the early hours of Sept. 3.

The other suspended players are sophomore running back Carlton Djam; freshman quarterback Seth Green; sophomore defensive back KiAnte Hardin; redshirt freshman defensive back Dior Johnson; freshman defensive lineman Tamarion Johnson; junior running back Kobe McCrary; sophomore defensive back Antonio Shenault; freshman quarterback Mark Williams; and freshman defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr.

In a statement read by senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky, the players said: "The boycott will remain effective until due process is followed and suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted."

The statement said the players were forced to take action after an unsatisfactory meeting with athletic director Mark Coyle in which they "wanted answers but received misleading statements".

Minnesota faces Washington State on Dec. 27 in the National Funding Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

Buford Jr., Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson were suspended for three games earlier this season when their names came up in the police investigation. A restraining order filed by a woman who made the allegations prevented the players from being at TCF Bank Stadium on game days because she was involved in game-day operations. But the players were not arrested, prosecutors decided not to press charges and the players returned to the team. The restraining order was lifted after a settlement on Nov. 2.

The players are demanding a closed-door meeting with members of the board of regents without the presence of Coyle or university president Eric Kaler.

"We are concerned that our brothers have been named publicly with reckless disregard in violation of their constitutional rights," Wolitatrsky said. "We are now compelled to speak for our team and take back our program."