Gophers football players sue University for bias in sexual assault investigation

The lawsuit, filed Friday, alleges the University targeted the nine players on a basis of race and gender.

Madeline Deninger

Following a 2016 University of Minnesota football scandal, nine players involved in the school’s investigation into their alleged sexual misconduct are suing the school for racial and gender bias. The lawsuit was filed Friday. 

According to the federal court documents, the plaintiffs believe the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action’s investigation targeted the men unfairly.  The lawsuit lists President Eric Kaler and the Board of Regents as defendants. 

“Because of Plaintiffs’ gender, and to support an archaic assumption that male football players had a propensity for sexual misconduct against women, the EOAA investigators deprived Plaintiffs of the fair and impartial investigation to which they were entitled under the U.S. Constitution and University policies and procedures,” the lawsuit reads. 

The lawsuit also alleges that the players, all of whom are black, were unfairly targeted because of their race. It claims the University and specifically Kaler approached other accusations of sexual misconduct involving white individuals differently. 

Following an alleged sexual assault of an unnamed female victim in fall 2016, the University investigated 10 football players, resulting in four expulsions and one suspension. There were no criminal charges made. 

According to a statement from University, the school will defend the results of the 2016 investigation and the process used. 

“The University thoughtfully and thoroughly responds when faced with disturbing allegations, and provides extensive process to students accused of misconduct, including the opportunity to be heard during thorough investigations, panel hearings, and Provost review. Further, aggrieved students have a right to review by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. ” the statement says. “We will vigorously defend the University.”