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Minnesota exonerates three players in sexual assault scandal

By The Sports Xchange
Minnesota exonerates three players in sexual assault scandal
The University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. (Gopher Football/Instagram)

University of Minnesota provost Karen Hanson upheld the punishments of two football players for their role in the school's sexual assault scandal while clearing three others of wrongdoing on Monday.

After hearing their appeals, Hanson ruled that defensive back KiAnte Hardin's expulsion and running back Carlton Djam's one-year suspension were suitable punishments.

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Meanwhile, she removed the one-year suspensions for defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., running back Kobe McCrary and quarterback Mark Williams. The three players are expected to return to spring practice on Tuesday.

"These couple of months have been nothing short of a nightmare for me and I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and shown nothing but love," Winfield wrote Monday on Twitter. "Today I have officially been cleared and I am excited to tear up the field for my brothers and my gopher fans."

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Last September, a woman alleged she was pressured into having sex with multiple football players at the university. Players who admitted to having sex with the woman said it was consensual.

No charges were filed, but the university launched an investigation and a report from the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action department concluded 10 football players were in violation of the school's conduct code.

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The suspensions of those 10 players resulted in a two-day player boycott and the team threatening to skip the Holiday Bowl, in which the Gophers were scheduled to face Washington State, because of a lack of "due process."

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The team eventually decided to play in the game, which Minnesota won 17-12. After the season, first-year coach Tracy Claeys was fired -- in part because of his controversial support for the players during their boycott. In January, the school hired P.J. Fleck to replace Claeys.

Minnesota (9-4, 5-4 in Big Ten) finished fourth in the conference's West Division last season.

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