More than 2,900 people have signed a petition calling for University of Minnesota to fire its football coach, Tracy Claeys. The Gophers coach punted himself into controversy earlier this month, when he supported players boycotting over Title IX discipline of their teammates.
In December, the University of Minnesota suspended 10 players over a September sexual encounter with a woman who said she was gang-raped. The university determined that under the “preponderance of evidence” standard, an assault had occurred. But after a police investigation of the same incident, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence.
The Gophers’ protest was “around the due process, period,” Claeys said. He also tweeted that he had “never been more proud of our kids” and that he “respected their rights & support their effort to make a better world.”
But petitioners say Claeys’s support of his players shows a “failure of leadership and a lack of sound judgment.”
They especially took issue with the Tweet, which the petition says “failed to mention or acknowledge the importance of respecting women… [and] did not condemn violence, sexual assault or disrespect of women.”
The petition was delivered to the Tuesday to the University of Minnesota’s president and athletic director, and it has continued to gain signatures at Moveon.org. An op-ed published yesterday in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press also called for Claeys’s firing.
The University of Minnesota has not yet said how it will respond to these calls for Claeys’s firing, especially since his team delivered a 9-4 victory against Washington State earlier this week.
“Now that our football team has completed its season following an exciting win in Tuesday night’s Holiday Bowl, Coach Claeys and I will take this opportunity to reflect on the past season before sitting down together to talk about the future and my expectations for the program,” the university’s athletic director said cryptically on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Hennepin County prosecutors are reviewing a newly surfaced, 80-page report written by the university. But the case remains closed, and there are no plans to re-open it, the Minneapolis Police Department said this week. The police department added that students interviewed by the university did not receive the Miranda warning, making their testimony to Title IX investigators inadmissible.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.