I determined that the football program must move in a new direction to address challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program. We need strong leadership to take Gopher football to the next level and address these challenges.
Claeys was let go following a tweet in support of a now-infamous player boycott before the Holiday Bowl to protest the suspensions of 10 players, the result of a Title IX investigation after a student alleged she was sexually assaulted in September. Although the boycott ended after players reportedly read details of the investigation, Claeys’ tweet remained.
Coyle described the process behind the decision to suspend the players and claimed Claeys was in support of the decision. However, Claeys later tweeted his support of the boycott, siding with his players despite supposedly approving the suspensions they were protesting.
Coach Claeys, Deputy Athletics Director John Cunningham, and I met with the student-athletes to advise them of our decision. Coach Claeys subsequently informed me that he agreed with the suspension decision.
And let me be clear: This was the right thing to do.
Coach Claeys’ Tweet later that week was not helpful. I accept that Coach Claeys intended it to support the boycotting players. Understandably others did not see it that way. I hope you will appreciate I cannot say more about the athletic suspensions in this case.
Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world! 〽️?
— GoldenGopherHFC (@GoldenGopherHFC) December 16, 2016
Coyle also noted the difference behind athletic suspension decisions and a prosecutor’s decision to charge someone with a crime, which was a major point of contention for the boycotting players with the school.