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Petition to have Tracy Claeys fired as Minnesota head coach has several hundred signatures

The petitioners want the coach dismissed for “failure of leadership and lack of sound judgment.”

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A group of “citizens of Minnesota and other concerned citizens” is petitioning the University of Minnesota to fire head football coach Tracy Claeys for his public support of a bowl boycott threatened by players. Those players were threatening to skip Minnesota’s bowl game over a lack of due process for a group of teammates who’d been suspended after a school investigation into an alleged sexual assault.

As of Monday evening, the petition on had gotten more than 400 of a sought 500 signatures, to be delivered to university president Eric Kaler.

Minnesota suspended 10 players ahead of the Gophers’ upcoming Holiday Bowl appearance against Washington State on Tuesday. The suspensions came after a university investigation into a September incident that, among other things, included an alleged sexual assault.

Their teammates threatened to boycott the bowl game until the suspended players received legal due process, but they ended the boycott once they read the university’s investigative report. Prosecutors didn’t file charges in connection with the September incident, but schools aren’t held to the same evidentiary standards as the government.

While the players threatened to skip the bowl game, Claeys tweeted his support for their protest, ostensibly aligning himself in direct opposition to UM’s administration.

The petitioners didn’t appreciate the sentiment.

“Claeys’ tweet expressing his pride in the team failed to mention or acknowledge the importance of respecting women,” the petition says. “Further, it did not condemn violence, sexual assault or disrespect of women. We feel this is not at all acceptable.”


Tracy Claeys’ tweet fails to acknowledge the tragic, historic mistreatment of women, demonstrating that he is not an appropriate or effective leader for young people. We believe he put the welfare of his football program above the welfare of a female student, despite that his own football players admitted to disrespecting and mistreating her. We believe his priorities are misplaced, and that he lacks sound moral judgment and leadership skills. We believe he is not an appropriate representative of the University of Minnesota, or the people of Minnesota.

One of the petition’s organizers told ESPN that the presence of a recruit during the incident being investigated “in and of itself, is grounds for termination.”

"The explicit language in his contract says he is in charge of recruiting and he is in charge of promoting moral integrity,” the organizer, Joe Nathan, said. “He clearly failed to exercise the kind of leadership that is necessary."

The Holiday Bowl is at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday (ESPN). It’s slated to go on as planned, with Claeys on the sidelines and his non-suspended players joining him in San Diego.