Gophers Football Coach Claeys Fired

AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA The University of Minnesota Football Head Coach has been fired.  According to reports by WCCO and the Star Tribune, Gophers coach Tracy Claeys’ employment was terminated after a Tuesday afternoon meeting with UMN Athletic Director Mark Coyle.  

The move happened in the wake of a sexual assault scandal from September that resulted in police and UMN investigations.   As Alpha News reported last month, the Hennepin County prosecutors office declined to file criminal charges on the players involved in the alleged assault.

Gophers football players (from top left) Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson; (from bottom left) Antonio Shenault, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams, Seth Green and Antoine Winfield Jr. have been suspended from all team activities, the University of Minnesota announced Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Courtesy photos - Pioneer Press)
Gophers football players (from top left) Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson; (from bottom left) Antonio Shenault, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams, Seth Green and Antoine Winfield Jr. have been suspended from all team activities, the University of Minnesota announced Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Courtesy photos – Pioneer Press)

However, the UMN Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) investigation led to the suspensions of ten football players. The university is also considering expulsion for five players (Ray Buford, KiAnte Hardin, Carlton Djam, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson); one-year suspensions for four (Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr.) along with for another (Antonio Shenault).

(Despite Scandal, Gophers Are Bowl Bound)

Last week, an online petition for the firing of Coach Claeys was delivered to UMN President Kaler (via email).  As of Tuesday, the petition had 3,430 signatures.  According to the petition website, the reason for the request was:

In response to the Sept. 2 allegations against U of M football players and a players’ boycott of practice and participation in the Holiday Bowl, Claeys tweeted on December 15: “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!”
Claeys’ tweet expressing his pride in the team failed to mention or acknowledge the importance of respecting women. Further, it did not condemn violence, sexual assault or disrespect of women. We feel this is not at all acceptable.

Whether the petition played a role in the decision to fire Claeys has not been reported.

(U of M Football Players Threaten Boycott)

In a response to the suspensions, the Gopher football team boycotted team activities for two days prior to rescinding the boycott to practice for the Holiday Bowl game, which they won over Washington State.  Claeys’ record as head coach for the Gophers was 11-8, where he was also the first coach since Glen Mason in 2003 to have nine wins in a season.