I caught up with University Regents chair Dean Johnson this weekend, getting his thoughts on the Gophers football program after players ended their recent boycott.
“I have an old saying: ‘Let your detractors be your teachers,’” Johnson said. “When someone demonstrates, when someone boycotts, when someone raises their hand, there’s something wrong."
“I don’t 100 percent agree with what [the players] did, but I commend them for their courage, and hopefully some better processes, and better understanding and communication will come forward, on behalf of all the student athletes.”
Here are Johnson’s thoughts:
On the Sept. 2 sexual assault allegations:
“First and foremost, in a larger and more important context beyond football, this is about campus safety, campus security of our students. And 100 percent, the regents and administration do not condone sexual harassment, sexual assault on our campus by any of our students.
“We do have a higher expectation of our student athletes, and the lesson learned, evidently, is we have not mentored, educated and trained our student athletes, some of them -- most understand -- but some don’t understand what is expected of them as responsible student athletes at the University of Minnesota.”
On Gophers players facing penalties without first having a hearing:
"When someone is suspended without hearing – and I think that’s the gist of why the football team decided to boycott; they felt there had been allegations without hearing. I’ve talked to [university President Eric Kaler] about this many times, that somehow we need to take a look at that notification hearing process. You know the old adage, ‘You’re innocent until proven guilty?’ I’m not sure that was true in this case. Their pictures are across the wide spectrum and people just assume they were guilty.”
On Coach Tracy Claeys’ tweet in support of the player boycott:
“I think Tracy was put in an absolute difficult position: Who do you support? Do you support the boss, if you will, the administration, or do you support your players? Well, if he doesn’t support his players and you go to the Holiday Bowl, guess what? I don’t think they’re going to play too hard for you. It’s just human nature.
“On the other hand, he has a boss, like I have a boss. You have to subscribe to what your boss wants you to do.”