Transparency in Gophers athletics

A.J. Barker’s accusations require investigation by the University.

Jonathan Morris

A.J. Barker’s abrupt departure from the Gophers football team has drawn national media attention in the past few days. In his public letter, Barker accuses head coach Jerry Kill and the training staff of mistreatment. In just his second year as the football program’s head coach, Kill has made progress with the team from its time under Tim Brewster — regardless of record. No longer are there reports of Gophers football players engaged in drunken bar fights. Kill has rapidly dismissed players who have violated the Student Conduct
Code.

Regardless of what the leading receiver’s status as a walk-on says about Kill’s recruiting, Barker’s departure is disappointing — and the accusations troubling. The University of Minnesota’s Code of Conduct for all faculty and staff, and any individual employed by the University, Section III, Subdivision 2 states “The University is committed to tolerance, diversity and respect for differences. When dealing with others, community members are expected to: […] avoid all forms of harassment, illegal discrimination, threats or violence.” Without passing judgment upon Kill, it seems that the accusations allege violations of the University Code of Conduct. Kill’s statement that he treats all players the same, rather than absolving him, seems to indicate that there may be systemic violations of University policy to
investigate.

The Student Code of Conduct defines hazing to include “an act intended to cause personal degradation or humiliation.” The University states that it will not tolerate the kind of behavior Barker alleges from either students — look at the fraternities, there is zero tolerance for hazing — or faculty and staff. The issues here are not violations of NCAA policies but rather University-wide policies that apply to every member of this
community.