The Washington Post
12.16.16 | Sally Jenkins
A college football team finally has recognized its power and leverage over campus administrators but for a queasy-making cause: solidarity over an unprosecuted allegation of multiple sexual assaults. The Minnesota Gophers are demanding that 10 accused “brothers” who have been suspended by the university for misconduct be reinstated or they will sit out the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27. There is something jarring about this, some missing sensibility.
What’s missing is any recognition that campus officials have the right to hold students to a higher standard than simply being non-felons.
Anyone who follows news about sexual assaults on campuses is surely frustrated by the extreme pendulum swings between inaction and false accusation. The Florida State, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Baylor administrations reportedly discounted victims’ stories and sheltered athletes from consequences, while at Duke and Virginia false accusers and botched investigations tarred the innocent. It’s extraordinarily difficult to know where the Minnesota case falls, for the simple reason that these cases are a nightmare to adjudicate. On those grounds alone, the Gophers get an F in civics for their boycott.
What’s known is this: Police and prosecutors decided that the case did not meet the burden of criminal proof, but the campus Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigators nevertheless recommended discipline against 10 players for violating student conduct standards, and the players were suspended by Athletic Director Mark Coyle and President Eric Kaler.