Minnesota coach breaks silence

Minnesota football coach Tracy Claeys on Sunday doubled down on his support for players who boycotted practices and threatened to skip a bowl game if 10 teammates suspended after a sexual assault investigation weren’t reinstated.

Speaking publicly for the first time since a standoff between 110 Golden Gophers football players and the administration, Claeys said he understands the players’ frustration with a Title IX investigation that they felt was inherently unfair to teammates who were accused of assaulting a woman at an off-campus dorm in September.

“As kids, they have no problems being held to a higher standard than the university requires and should require,” Claeys said after Minnesota’s practice. “This is all about the due process.”

Claeys also clarified a comment he made on WCCO radio on Sunday morning when he said he was risking his job by supporting the players. The coach said he was just advising his players of possible ramifications during a team meeting on Thursday, before the team made the announcement to boycott.

“I was a sounding board for them and it was their decision,” Claeys said. “I made sure to make sure that they knew what the possible fallouts could be and we went through all those things. . . . I was there to make sure that they were doing it for the right reasons and they knew what the consequences could be.”

The boycott ended Saturday when the team backed down and said they would play in the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl against Washington State in San Diego, even though officials declined to reinstate their suspended teammates. The players agreed after getting assurances that those accused will get a fair hearing next month.

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