December 17, 2016 / 8:22 PM / in a year

University of Minnesota football team cancels boycott over sex assault suspensions

(Reuters) - The University of Minnesota football team on Saturday said it would not boycott its upcoming bowl game this month to protest the suspension of 10 players in connection with a sexual assault investigation.

The Golden Gophers had announced on Thursday night they would skip all team activities, including the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 23, until the players were reinstated and “due process is followed.”

The team’s response to the suspensions had embroiled players in an ongoing national debate over how sexual assault allegations are handled on U.S. college campuses.

The 10 players were suspended this week after a university investigation into an alleged sexual assault following the team’s first game of the season in September.

The school has not given a specific reason for the suspensions, citing privacy laws. No criminal charges were filed.

The team’s about-face came after a meeting on Friday night between senior players and the university president, according to a statement. The players will remain suspended but will have a “fair hearing” before a “diverse review panel.”

“Sexual harassment and violence against women - they have no place on this campus, on our team, in our society,” said senior Drew Wolitarsky, who read the statement on behalf of the team.

He also said he hoped for a “public dialogue” on the “apparent lack of due process in a university system.”

The school’s president, Eric Kaler, told reporters at a news conference that he was pleased by the outcome and promised to hold fair hearings for the 10 suspended players.

He also emphasized that the players’ decision to consider a boycott was in support of their teammates and not an endorsement of sexual violence.

Minnesota is scheduled to play the Washington State Cougars in the bowl game.

Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Chris Reese

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