Jessica Luther embarked on writing "Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape" in 2014 after her favorite team, Florida State, was embroiled in scandal. The book was released in September and is suddenly very pertinent to what is going on at the University of Minnesota.
Gophers football players announced Thursday they would boycott team activities to protest the suspension of 10 teammates in advance of the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl.
Luther, who is based in Austin, Texas, said during a phone interview Friday that the complicated situation playing out with the Gophers is unusual in some ways and all too familiar in others.
Typically, Luther said, a school's top administrators are reactive and not proactive. In the case of Minnesota, where an investigation by the school's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action recommended sanctions against the 10 players, officials acted on those recommendations by swiftly doling out suspensions.
"The actual suspension came from the top," Luther said. "That's weird. Most of the time they are reacting behind what is going on."
Luther also said the subsequent boycott from other players over the suspensions is uncharted territory in this kind of case.
"The players are being very public in their response to what has happened. We've never seen this kind of thing," she said. "What's very clear to me is that I don't think the players have a good sense of what has happened or what the process is. That's unsurprising, even though I find it distressing. I don't think most college students know about the criminal process or university process."
Kill keeps mum
Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill was in downtown Minneapolis on Friday for a book signing, but he did not want to discuss the Gophers situation publicly.
Kill, now an associate athletic director at Kansas State, had not yet had time to have all the conversations with his former colleagues he wanted to before speaking on the topic.
Gophers coach Tracy Claeys' tweet Thursday night caused a bit of a social media backlash. Claeys (@GoldenGopherHFC) tweeted, "Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!"
While some fans were supportive of the boycott and the players, the players' news conference and the coach's tweet sparked a visceral reaction from some students and community members, who came to the defense of the female student who accused players of an early morning sexual assault Sept. 1.
Players and their supporters initially used the Twitter hashtag #wehadenough, which by Friday had turned into a chain of criticism directed toward them.
Typical of the thread was this one, from @Tewksburytoday: "@GoldenGopherHFC 'Making the world a better place' would include NOT boozing and treating women with respect. Time for YOU to grow up coach."
On Facebook, Ryan Van Haaften wrote: "The players have demonstrated they don't comprehend the student code of conduct may hold them to a higher level of accountability than the law. Which is odd because football done right is all about accountability."
Staff writers Liz Sawyer, Jason Gonzalez and Michael Rand contributed to this notebook.