Four professors at the University of Minnesota with expertise on student or athletic conduct or general university policy on Tuesday condemned the bowl game boycott Gophers football players threatened last week.
The players subsequently withdrew the threat to not play in next week's Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
The professors, speaking at a forum at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, also chastised Gophers coach Tracy Claeys, who last week tweeted his support for the players, saying he had "never been more proud of our kids."
"It was a terrible thing to say," said Doug Hartmann, professor of sociology and author of books on sports and race, and chairman of an academic oversight committee for athletics.
Political science professor Larry Jacobs said he decided to organize the forum on the controversy because he thought it was important to air the issues on a much-discussed topic at the university. About 50 people attended the forum, including students, faculty, staff, several administrators and at least two university regents, Peggy Lucas and Darrin Rosha.
"The campus is seething on this issue," he said. "You've got faculty grading papers, you've got students going home [for the holidays] but still there is enormous questions, anxiety and frustration on campus."
Panelist Christopher Uggen, a professor of sociology and law who is also a member of the faculty consultative committee to the university administration, said, "We are not proud of the language of Coach Claeys."
By contrast, Uggen said that a lot of faculty were proud of the stance that University President Eric Kaler took in the controversy.
Kaler declined to rescind his suspension of 10 Gophers football players over allegations they were involved in a Sept. 2 sexual assault. Kaler encouraged the students to end the boycott, assuring them their appeals would be treated fairly.
Emily Hoover, a horticulture science professor and a faculty athletic representative, said Kaler did a "wonderful job." As for Claeys, she said, "He was in a different position. I don't know how much he knew and when he knew it."
The Hennepin County attorney's office declined to charge any students in the incident, but said Tuesday it would review the university's report. The university concluded the players broke campus rules that require students to give explicit consent to sexual encounters.
Jacobs asked the panelists what lessons could be drawn from the incident.
The university rules should be discussed across campus "in many different venues," said Julie Schumacher, a professor of English who just finished a three-year term on the college committee on student behavior.
Other faculty agreed Tuesday that more education is needed on the issues.
Colin Campbell, an associate pharmacology professor and chairman of the Faculty Senate's Faculty Consultative Committee, said he's concerned by the lack of understanding of Title IX and the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) process that has come to light because of this case.
The Faculty or University Senate is planning to have a discussion about Title IX in January, he said.
"I'm not going to have a post-mortem on this case," he said. "But I think, what I'm aware of now, is that there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation about our federal responsibilities and how we approach this."
Staff writer Emma Nelson contributed to this story.