Reports: Minnesota reinstates 5 players following appeals in sexual-assault investigation
Five Minnesota football players charged in connection with a university investigation into an alleged sexual assault have been reinstated to the program, multiple outlets reported Monday night.
According to the reports, Antoine Winfield Jr., Kobe McCrary and Mark Williams won their appeals cases and had their punishments dropped Monday night. Shortly thereafter, the school reportedly announced that those three, along with Antonio Shenault and Seth Green, can now participate in spring practice.
The university initially recommended suspensions or probation for each of those five, but each appealed his decision.
The university initially suspended 10 players in December, two weeks before the Holiday Bowl, following an alleged sexual assault of a female student in September: Winfield, McCrary, Shenault, Green, Williams, Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, and Tamarion Johnson.
In February, an appeals panel dismissed the punishment against four of the five players reinstated Monday, with Williams’ punishment lowered to a 1-year suspension. The alleged victim appealed the university’s decision not to suspend Winfield and McCrary, while Williams appealed his decision to the provost. The players continued to be held out of practice while this latest round of appeals played out, according to the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis.
The Pioneer Press also reported that University Provost Karen Hanson, who oversaw the appeal process, upheld the punishments for Hardin (expulsion) and Djam (1-year suspension). Buford, Dior Johnson and Tamarian Johnson have all transferred to junior college.
The players’ attorney is considering appealing those decisions, the Pioneer Press reported.
When the suspensions were announced in December, the entire Gophers team initially boycotted team events and threatened to sit out the Holiday Bowl. But they soon reversed course after reportedly reading the “painful details” in an 80-page report. Head coach Tracy Claeys supported the boycott at first, but was ultimately fired after the Holiday Bowl. The school then hired P.J. Fleck as his replacement shortly thereafter.