The University of Minnesota mascot at a football game. Courtesy UM Athletics
The University of Minnesota mascot at a football game. Courtesy UM Athletics

University of Minnesota players announced Saturday that they have ended a boycott of football activities in an effort to reinstate 10 suspended teammates and will play in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 at Qualcomm Stadium.

In a statement to reporters, senior receiver Drew Wolitarsky said that after many hours of discussion within the team and after speaking with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, it became clear that having the suspensions overturned “was not going to happen” reported KSTP-TV, the ABC affiliate for Minneapolis-St. Paul.

However, they did come to the resolution that all 10 suspended players will have a fair hearing that includes a diverse review panel, said Wolitarsky, a graduate of Canyon High School in the Los Angeles County community of Santa Clarita.

“As a team, we understand that what has occurred these past few days, and playing football for the University of Minnesota, is larger than just us,” the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reported Wolitarsky as saying.

“We now ask that you, the members of the media, our fans, and the general public hold all of us accountable for ensuring that our teammates are treated fairly, along with any and all victims of sexual assault. We also ask that the public dialogue related to the apparent lack of due process in a university system is openly discussed and evaluated.

“As football players, we know that we represent this university and this state and that we are held to a higher standard. We want to express our deepest gratitude to our coaching staff and so many others for their support during this difficult time, and we hope that our fans and community understand why we took the actions that we did.

“Our thoughts and prayers are for the well-being of the woman involved in the original incident, and for our 10 teammates to ensure that they are treated fairly. We look forward to representing the University of Minnesota and the state of Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl in a way that makes all of you proud.”

The Golden Gophers will face Washington State in the Holiday Bowl in a matchup of 8-4 teams.

The boycott was announced on Thursday. The suspensions came in response to a sexual assault investigation that did not result in criminal charges.

While the alleged sexual assault that followed Minnesota’s home opener on Sept. 2 didn’t result in criminal charges, it did lead to an investigation by the school’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.

The Star Tribune reported the office recommended that four players be expelled and six others suspended for one year for their roles in the incident.

Their teammates contend that they’re being punished for something they didn’t do.

— City News Service