Ten Minnesota football players have been suspended indefinitely by the university after an internal investigation into an alleged sexual assault that occurred on Sept 2.
The decision was handed down on Tuesday. The suspended players are Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, Seth Green, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault, Mark Williams, and Antoine Winfield Jr.
Four of the ten players—Buford, Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson—were suspended for three games while police investigated the incident, which occurred at a Dinkytown apartment. However, there were never any arrests and the players were reinstated when Hennepin County declined to press charges.
The alleged victim is a student who is part of the Gophers gameday operations at TCF Bank Stadium. In October she was granted restraining orders against those four players plus Carlton Djam that prevented them from playing in Minnesota’s game against Rutgers on October 29. The restraining orders were dismissed after a November 2 settlement that still required the players to stay 20 feet away from the alleged victim.
The new suspension, which includes the four players previously suspended plus six others who were in the victim’s apartment at the time of the alleged assault, comes after an independent investigation by the University of Minnesota’s office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA).
“Law enforcement does their investigation, and the standard is beyond reasonable doubt,” explains Adele Kimmel, a senior lawyer for the public interest law group Public Justice. “The university needs to look at this through a Title IX lens, which uses ‘preponderance of evidence’ as the standard to determine whether an assault took place or not. The school has an obligation to make sure that all students have a safe environment for education.”
The EOAA makes punishment recommendations to the university, and players are allowed to appeal. However, Lee Hutton, an attorney representing some of the players, said their appeal was unlikely to be heard before the team’s appearance in the Holiday Bowl on December 27.
Hutton also said that some of his clients could be facing expulsion, while others could be handed a one-year team suspension.
“I’m ticked, and I plan on exposing the office of EOAA for these unfounded conclusions,” Hutton told the StarTribune. “I was going to wait until after the new year to bring lawsuits on behalf of my clients against [the alleged victim]; we just decided to accelerate the process.”