Football players at the University of Missouri have taken the extraordinary step this weekend of refusing to play for the Tigers until the school's system president leaves office.
The initial known group was comprised of black players angered by what they view as an insufficient response to on-campus racism by the university system's president, Tim Wolfe. He's faced criticism for his handling of a wave of racial hostility on campus, and the players want him out of his job, either via firing or resignation.
On Sunday, though, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel tweeted this:
The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950 GP pic.twitter.com/fMHbPPTTKl— Coach Gary Pinkel (@GaryPinkel) November 8, 2015
That's a whole lot of Missouri football players, many of them white, and coaches linking arms under a banner of the #ConcernedStudent1950 hashtag, which has carried the movement's message on social media.
Last week, Missouri student Jonathan Butler announced he'd go on a hunger strike to push for Wolfe's removal. Here's Butler on his cause, via student journalists at The Maneater.
Butler is holding his strike as a response to the lack of action from Wolfe to several instances of racism and discrimination in the past months. He will end the strike when Wolfe is no longer in office, or when his internal organs fail, he said. But in the letter, Butler stressed that he has nothing against Wolfe personally.
"Let it be known I have no ill will or thoughts of harm toward Mr. Wolfe," Butler wrote. "But I do have an urgency to make the campus I call home a more safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all identities and backgrounds."
Team spokesman Chad Moller spoke to Missouri beat writer David Morrison:
When asked if team pic means staff supports the boycott, Moller said "you saw the picture."— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 8, 2015
Wolfe released a statement on Sunday afternoon.
Official statement from @UMPrez/@umsystem: pic.twitter.com/XKBYCtEAa6— Ashley Jost (@ajost) November 8, 2015
Practice did not take place on Sunday, and there is no word on when it will resume.
Mizzou athletics/football program releases a statement pic.twitter.com/WSVTbRVSzd— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 8, 2015
An anonymous Missouri player suggested more is going on behind the scenes.
Mizzou player tells @ESPN, MU players & coaches "are pissed (about halting football practices). If we were 9-0 this wouldn't be happening."— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 9, 2015
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey also released a statement.
Statement from SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on Missouri protest pic.twitter.com/fFIp4Q9eau— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) November 8, 2015
Missouri could take a $1 million hit if its game against BYU is cancelled.