University of Missouri black football players pledge boycott over racism concerns

Mon Nov 9, 2015 9:14am EST
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By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - Black players on the University of Missouri football team say they will boycott practices, meetings and games until the university dismisses its president or he quits, contending he has not responded adequately to concerns about racism on campus.

The move comes as a hunger strike staged by a graduate student to protest racism enters a second week. A majority of the 35,000 students at the university in Columbia, about 125 miles (200 km) west of St. Louis, are white.

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’" the university’s Legion of Black Collegians said in a statement on Twitter.

"We will no longer participate in any football-related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experience,” it said. More than 30 players were in a photograph linked to the statement posted on Saturday night.

In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, Wolfe indicated no intention to resign but said solutions to the students' concerns were being discussed.

"It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns," Wolfe said.

The university has been working on "a systemwide diversity and inclusion strategy" to be released in April 2016, Wolfe said.

Protests on campus have been led by a group called ConcernedStudent1950. It said black students had endured racial slurs and believed white favoritism existed in many aspects of campus life.   Continued...

Missouri Tigers wide receiver Bud Sasser runs into the end zone after a 25-yard touchdown catch against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half of the 2015 Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, January 1, 2015. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports