|Strib image - this report - LABOR SOLIDARITY|
They work, they have a contract. Express and implied terms of an athletic scholarship contract can exist beyond what is public knowledge. Basically the scholarship contract given to football players is: You bring in mega-bucks for us, we give you a scholarship; and there is no actual nor reasonably implied contract terms saying consensual sex between adult students will impair such a deal.
The University of Minnesota, from appearances reported in Strib coverage, argauably appears to have broken and breached its contract with the collective unit - the team - which should be a collective bargaining unit after all.
Did Kaeler and/or Coyle consult a lawyer about contract duties owed players before making a unilateral decision which fairly clearly defames a substantial percentage if not all of THE TEAM - the players with whom it had contracted? Directly against some; indirectly against all.
Opinions can differ. Yet the players arguably are right to refuse performance of their contract to earn millions for the school; given that the school has itself arguably unilaterally breached the deal.
There is no duty to preform given a prior breach by the other side, in most contracts. Events of a punitive nature by U. administrators happened which reflect upon and are related to the contract between the U.Minn. and its recruited players who accepted scholarships there instead of elsewhere on the actual or implied promise they'd be treated fairly. Not in an arbitrary and capricious way, but legally correct instead.
This is the second bad AD hire of Kaler. Does he have to be allowed three strikes before being out? First time, harassment was not curtailed. This time, overreaction in light of the first mistake seems apparent.
This time a sexual-encounter situation from the past which had run its course with a police and prosecutorial decision that crime was absent; and with a civil settlement including a cross covenant not to sue, so that involved persons had under advice of counsel resolved issues between them.
Settlement exists of record between the young adult woman who went to a player's apartment after having consumed alcohol; and the player(s) with whom she had sex. The matter was put to rest.
But Kaler and his subordinate decided that was not proper or sufficient; and further publicly attacked the reputations of players. If they failed to consult counsel before doing it, each should be sued for defamation; and let the chips then fall where they may.
Here is Strib reporting:
Background on allegations
According to police reports and the student’s testimony, the student, who is part of the gameday operations at TCF Bank Stadium, drank five to six shots of vodka on the night of Sept. 1 before heading out of her apartment with her roommates toward Dinkytown.
She then went with two football players to the Radius, an off-campus apartment building. Though she said her memory was spotty, she recalled Djam in a common area asking her to go up to his apartment. She would later testify that she had no intention of having sex.
She said she felt panicked when Djam walked her into his bedroom, but later testified that he never pushed her, prevented her from leaving or said anything threatening to her.
Asked during a court hearing why she didn’t leave, she said, “I felt scared, trapped, isolated with someone I felt had power over me.”
At some point, they began having sex. The police report said “she doesn’t have a recall about how the sex acts started.”
After Djam, others followed. She told police she saw a line of men waiting to take turns.
“I was removing myself from my mind and my body to help myself from the pain and experience going on,” she testified.
She estimated there were at least a dozen men. “I was shoving people off of me,” she testified. “They kept ignoring my pleas for help. Anything I said they laughed. They tried to cheer people on.”
About an hour and a half later, she said, she was allowed to leave. She called her sister, who told her to go to the hospital immediately, where she was given a rape exam, while her mother made a report to Minneapolis police. The next day, an officer sat down with the student, who described her version of what happened.
That is an account from one person, with a lot of state-of-mind allegation not wholly consistent with what objective conduct she engaged in and which she'd admitted. The allegation was made that at some point in the process something consensual changed to saying "No" happened; but with that not honored. There is no testimony of how many sexual partners the woman had in the hour and a half before she left the involved premises. There is no medical evidence presented within the Strib reporting of injury beyond and inconsistent with consensual sex with multiple partners.
If she was obviously impaired from alcohol consumption to be unable to consent to having sex that would be a consideration. Yet the report was drinking with female friends and then going out on the street with them, voluntarily, and not too stumbling drunk to not be able to walk upright.
The report is silent about what if any expectation or intent existed within the female group that went to the streets; nor is any testimony reported in the Strib account from the woman's drinking partners about her level of inebriation at the time they collectively hit the streets. I.e., whether any of the woman's female drinking cohorts feared for her level of impairment is absent from the Strib item. As is whether they even noticed.
[... Police] interviewed Djam. He acknowledged having sex with the woman, but was adamant that it was consensual. As proof, he played them three separate videos, totaling about 90 seconds, taken that morning.
During an 8-second clip, the woman “appears lucid, alert, somewhat playful and fully conscious; she does not appear to be objecting to anything at this time,” Wente wrote in his report. After viewing two additional videos, he wrote “the sexual contact appears entirely consensual.”
Police later interviewed four other players, who each said the sex was consensual.
[... Police] sent the investigation to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office for possible prosecution. In it, he wrote about the videos, “at no time does she indicate that she is in distress or that the contact is unwelcome or nonconsensual.”
On Oct. 3 the attorney’s office announced there would be no charges.
There was issuance of a restraining order; i.e., there was an ex parte proceeding where only the complainant's version of facts are before an issuing judge. Ex parte non-adversarial restraining order proceedings can be subject to abuse.
From Strib reporting, it appears none of this happened on campus, or otherwise under campus jurisdiction. (Unless the apartment building in which the incident occurred was campus owned/run housing.)
Police, having no incentive to misstate facts, saw video evidence and reached conclusions consistent with consensual conduct by an adult woman, presumably off-campus.
From that Kaler and Coyle in spite of the recited evidence punished players without any apparent written findings, conclusions, or explanation to the players and with Strib reporting no opportunity of the affected players to be heard prior to issuance of a punitive decision.
That suggests an impaired proceeding on its face, unless Strib's report abridged out pertinent facts.
There is nothing in the Strib reporting that there existed any express term of the employment contract [which again is scholarship issuance and fair and lawful treatment in exchange for money making for the university], which would bar or would have barred consensual sex between adult students.
Consensual sex between adults is a norm and a right, and not an employer's concern if not happening on employer premises during employment time. Moreover, in loco parentis seems to be an outdated concept this century.
Bottom line from the reporting, and without any Strib reporting of any rationale being articulated by the perps; Kaler and Coyle is; Employer authority has been overstepped; absent due process of a hearing; and the EOAA situation - happenings before the Kaler-Coyle decision - is unreported. If a written findings and conclusions report was issued by the EOAA it has gone unreported by Strib; (however no university board should be allowed to circumvent due process).
The collective aspect of the team's reaction: Here, going outside of the incident is merited. See this generic websearch. And this.
This item. Also, here and here.
Many can contend the NLRB showed no conscience with the Northwestern players; and others can disagree; but for the remainder of the team each has had his character besmirched to some degree, by the public scapegoating of teammates; the cliche being "There is no I in team."
Each player has been directly or indirectly promised the university will used honest and imperative best efforts to field a team that honors each scholarship recipient by fielding the most successful team lawfully feasible, and that the university will take no steps to lessen individual opportunity to gain attention at the next level; where payment for services is generous for those making that cut.
The university is obliged to not take any arbitrary steps to wrongly besmirch by association all its athletes by wrongly and arbitrarily defaming teammates in public, especially to an ever salaciously oriented local or national press.
When such duty to honor the responsibility toward the team and everyone on it is breached by flawed conduct; every player suffers; and even absent a collective bargaining unit (as most who labor for a living might want with the players not having a bargaining unit via an unfortunate NLRB precedent); implied responsibilities under an atheletic scholarship still reasonably have to exist to not denigrate or discredit the collective and individual character of a team or its members improperly.
Kaler and Coyle shoot from the hip conduct seems part of the gist of Strib's report, and it arguably breached each athlete's contract, to the point the athletes should have the recognized legal right to take remedial action; which is what they collectively decided to do.
It is reasonable to conclude: The team is right. The bosses are in breach, or appear to be. Surely reporting might have carried more detail, such as possible bias on the EOAA decision makers part, or other aspects of the EOAA adherence to due process; but the key step is there was no public explanation between an EOAA recommendation [not a mandate, nor binding] and a decision given the press without any written justification by the two perps, nor with any indication the two perps consulted counsel before acting.
I think every member of the team might join in a defamation lawsuit claiminng they collectively were defamed by a decision issued the press that reflects on each of them; over apparently lawful though arguably disagreeable conduct of a few.
The few; they had a chance to get laid; the woman entered a situation suggestive of consent and there was tangible documentation - video - suggesting to authorities that consensual sex was at issue; i.e., there was no criminal conduct by anyone [false reporting still being a question but one where the mutual cross covenant not to sue stymies resolution].
BOTTOM LINE: IN LOCO PARENTIS IS DEAD AND ENGAGING IN IT BY KALER AND COYLE WAS QUESTIONABLE; AND ARGUABLY SHOULD BE PUT TO CIVIL LAW LITIGATION BY THE PLAYERS - UNLESS THE TWO PERPS BACK DOWN AND APOLOGIZE IN SOME MANNER ACCEPTABLE TO EACH AND EVERY PLAYER SO THAT A SETTLEMENT CAN BE PUT INTO PLACE.
AND SCREW THE BOWL GAME. KALER AND COYLE POISONED THAT WELL. LAST, IF THERE WAS PRESSURE FROM THE REGENTS OR ANY ONE OR SEVERAL OF THEM; THAT FACT DESERVES PUBLICITY, SCRUTINY, AND RESOLUTION.
Strib posts redacted police reporting. Nothing appears online about the U's EOAA process details.
The entire thing seems fairly sordid; but university careers are at stake. The prosecurorial decision to not charge any crime is consistent with the redacted report. What convinced EOAA personnel to weigh evidence against the men and in favor of the woman is unclear.
With counsel for the men involved in part of the process, one might infer the interviews could have been coordinated; but there is not any evidence counsel coached testimony. There is no blood alcohol reading for the woman from near the time of the incident so extreme inebriation is speculative.
What a jury in an adversarial setting viewing witness demeanor and testimony might believe under either a reasonable doubt standard or a preponderance of evidence standard is speculative; absent such a situation enfolding. It is a complicated case, and if there was evidence of physical coercion it is absent in the police reporting.
Either a woman had extremely bad judgment and after the fact felt remorse for unwise conduct was the truth; or whether there was unreasonable coercion or inebriation beyond ability to consent is a question the public can consider, but it's ultimately a he said - she said situation where ending a college football employments while also publicly impugning men's characters as unfit to continue their football employment is a serious thing; and the willingness of the woman to settle on cross covenants not to sue and to then use an EOAA process of unclear nature to stigmatize the men seems high handed.
Is there any reader who feels the woman involved in the situation acted without fault? What tangible evidence is there that nonconsensual sex happened? There is only testimonial evidence either way. The tangible evidence, absence of screams of no, or stop, or such seems lacking. The woman appears ambivalent about what happened.
Would you have prosecuted any of the men? Would you say that once not prosecuted, Coyle and Kaler overextended their authority? Would you say the incident will hurt recruiting for the program no matter the ultimate resolution? To your mind, is due process a difficult concept, and were the men accorded "due process?"
Last, and the point here - is the entire team justified in saying the boss is wrong and we are on strike?
That is the question the boycott raises. Not whether a bunch of young men might have acted better even where a prosecutorial decision was made that no crime should be charged? Clearly it is super sleazy. But is there a requirement a college athlete employed to play football and bring in millions to a college should, that a team to a man should, be Tim Tebow? To me, no, but readers should consider things where rape is a serious felony and people having consensual sex, even if in kinky ways is up to them. And morning after remorse as a possible factor has to be deemed a possible explanation where that answer is between the ears of one young woman who's admitted conduct showed super-bad judgment.
Reusse has an item, Strib online here, byline December 17, 2016 — 6:54am, concluding:
Why are the players — including senior leaders Mitch Leidner and Drew Wolitarsky — standing up for 10 teammates after these suspensions and calls for expulsions?
Relax, baby boomers. The players’ agenda here isn’t to support group sex or assaults.
I contend these football players felt as if they all were in Hewitt’s cross hairs from the time her e-mail — with its wide-ranging accusations based on little evidence — surfaced as a major news story.
The Gophers’ protest could be as simple as their conviction that 10 teammates never had a chance with Hewitt and her staff of advocates. There is e-mail evidence from July 2015 to support that theory.
The Hewitt mentioned is a university official, per this online item - this web search; with the Daily having reported July 20, 2016, here. Three officials are mentioned in the Daily report, each female. A question of gender balance might exist. The DFL, for example, has requirements in its caucusing to assure gender balance. And that is for politics in general; not politics between the genders, as in sexual assault vs. non-assault situations. Also, the Daily alludes to procedures being in some sense streamlined, where due process could be the baby thrown out with bathwater:
The decision comes from a recommendation made by a workgroup of students, faculty and staff, Provost Karen Hanson announced earlier this month.
The move comes as reports of sexual misconduct at the University have increased in recent years and scrutiny has proliferated — both from victims and the accused — over institutions’ procedures for handling these cases.
“We’ve all been thinking about what are the areas of this process that we could make improvements,” said Kimberly Hewitt, the University’s Title IX coordinator and director of Equal Opportunity of and Affirmative Action. “We were trying to think about ways to make the whole process shorter and also to increase the training and education of the people who were doing the panels.”
The CCSB, a volunteer committee of faculty, staff and students, has handled all student misconduct hearings in the past — cases that range from scholastic dishonesty to alcohol use to hazing.
But concerns from faculty, students and committee members that the hearing process was too lengthy and complicated, as well as that panelists were inadequately trained to deal with cases of sexual misconduct, led University officials to begin exploring new means to adjudicate sexual misconduct-related hearings.
A hearing of record with standards of evidence would be a step toward due process, if with a balanced panel outlook being a prime concern; and the Daily report does not explore such a level of detail concerning process design.
Strib also reported of this matter, in 2016 as with the Daily, noting:
Officials said they plan to train a pool of 35 volunteers to preside over hearings, as part of an effort to cope with an upsurge in complaints about sexual misconduct on campus.
“We thought we could make some changes, make the overall process move faster,” said Kimberly Hewitt, director of the U’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which investigates complaints of sexual assault.
In the past, students who were unhappy with the outcomes of those investigations could request a hearing before the Campus Committee on Student Behavior. But Hewitt said there was growing concern that the committee members, who also handle complaints about cheating and plagiarism, needed more training to handle allegations about sexual assault.
[...] These kinds of panels, however, have faced criticism across the country from those who argue that courts, not colleges, should prosecute sexual assault. “The 20 hours of training reinforces my concern that the panel will be unqualified,” said Jonathan Taylor, founder of Title IX for All, a Texas advocacy group. “Universities simply don’t have the competence or the training or the capacity or the resources to adjudicate these accusations.”
But Hewitt said the university is taking pains to ensure that the process is fair to both sides. She said the volunteers were screened to ensure that they have an understanding of the issues and “can demonstrate objectivity.”
There is a major worry that promising athletic careers in this instance may be imperiled by too much ad hoc, and too little due process. Seasoned police investigators reached one conclusion backed up by experienced prosecutors. Then, something else from panels where an assurance of gender balance of the panel is a primary assurance needed as a first step in assessing due process. That seems the undercurrent of the Reusse item. Were he to amend the post with the email he alludes to being posted; and links back to the 2015 situation he notes; we as readers might be better informed.
Kangaroo courts can exist, streamlined or otherwise; and the current incident may evolve in ways we do not yet foresee. Due process is not an invention of the moment either. It is Constitutional, expressly so, in the Bill of Rights. Again, with the current situation involving college football players, employees generating large university income flows and having hopes of themselves gaining next-level incomes without having their characters wrongly impaired and besmirched, and not students without that distinction. It is a labor law issue, something the NCAA and its affiliates are way too quick to deny and dismiss as secondary. The cost of that stadium, and its cash flows, is not secondary. It is major.
Additional links providing background on the matters Reusse raised; here, AP here, here, Strib here, here. Last, capitulation and/or reasonable movement, you decide, although the outcome seems sensible in that labor disputes ultimately settle, and sooner is better than later.
However, what is "affirmative consent" when there is a video of the involved woman having oral and vaginal sex at the same time with two partners and without any apparent dislike or distress shown? That one, I'd side with the professional police investigation and exercise of prosecutorial discretion; not some inflated view of what is or is not rape. Compare this. What parallels if any can you find? Also, have you any problem with Strib reporting this, or with the content itself:
University of Minnesota football players ended their boycott of the team Saturday morning and “will immediately begin preparations” to play in the Holiday Bowl, according to a players’ statement emailed to the Star Tribune.
Several players gathered at the football complex Saturday morning to announce the team’s plans.
The players’ statement reads, in part:
“As a team, we understand that what has occurred these past few days, and playing football for the University of Minnesota, is larger than just us. ...
“We now ask that you, the members of the media, our fans, and the general public hold all of us accountable for ensuring that our teammates are treated fairly, along with any and all victims of sexual assault. We also ask that the public dialogue related to the apparent lack of due process in a university system is openly discussed and evaluated.
“As football players, we know that we represent this University and this state and that we are held to a higher standard. We want to express our deepest gratitude to our coaching staff and so many others for their support during this difficult time, and we hope that our fans and community understand why we took the actions that we did.
“Our thoughts and prayers are for the well-being of the woman involved in the original incident, and for our 10 teammates to ensure that they are treated fairly. We look forward to representing the University of Minnesota and the state of Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl in a way that makes all of you proud.”
After Gophers senior Drew Wolitarsky spoke to the media, athletic director Mark Coyle said: I'm thankful our football team came to a resolution and I'm happy we will be playing in Holiday Bowl vs. Washington State."
"We will judge (the suspended players) very fairly," said university president Eric Kaler. "I'm grateful the student athletes ended the boycott."
Late Friday night, many players left the Gophers football complex after meeting with Kaler and other school leaders convinced the team would boycott the bowl, sources said.
The players' stance then, sources said, was to stick to their boycott of all team activities due to 10 teammates being suspended earlier this week after a sexual assault investigation was conducted by the university. No charges were filed against the players, but federal law requires universities to investigate sexual assasult allegations.
Sources said the players continued to discuss the boycott through the night. The players were up all night, Wolitarsky said Saturday morning.
Wolitarsky read the players’ statement Saturday morning, starting by condeming violence aganist women and sexual assault.
The players took biggest issue with “due process” and “communication.”
“We’re disappointed at the lack of communication” on the part of school leaders, Wolitarsky said, reading from the players’ statement.
“After many hours of discussion within our team, and after speaking with President Kaler, it became clear that our original request of having the 10 suspensions overturned was not going to happen,” the statement read.
The players did not take questions after reading the team’s statement.
So, bottom line, "due process" is and remains "due," and ten players walk the plank? Presumably the end of the boycott and decision to play is not the end of the story. The question: Who is being victimized? And if the ten have acted lawfully, the conclusion of law enforcement and public prosecutors; what remedy should they ultimately have? And should the internal U. processes be changed, a/k/a improved? And is there some personnel issue at play, as the Reusse item alluded? With police the term "badge heavy" is sometimes used. Was there a "badge heavy" official with a thumb on the scale, and should such an employment continue if there was?
Glen Taylor pays his jocks and they have a negotiated collective bargaining contract situation with the league. The NCAA exploits.
Glen Taylor's Strib conveniently ignores the employment dimension of the professional athletes it uses [it is an uncompensated profession, but a profession nonetheless, a scholarship with lack of decent bargaining power being incident to indentured servitude]. Compare, this Strib editorial, ignoring nuances such as giganto money flows generated by college sports, football and men's basketball in particular, while the issues the Northwestern players raised and suffered a loss on remain real and unfair because the NLRB wrongly decided. Give them their rights.
Strib has published the final team statement in agreeing [caving in?] to generate substantial bowl game income for the State and its stellar University. This link. And Coyle and Kaler trying to pin the decision on the head coach went unmentioned while the entirety of the decision process, including any possibility of bias or improper prejudgment, remains to have a measure of sunshine on the way things are set up, and by whom. It was not the coach at a desk saying "This should happen to ten young men."
FURTHER -SAME THING: In loco parentis? Between a mother and a daughter with candor, perhaps the best thing a mother could say is "Don't be a tramp." Between a University and its football players invasion of privacy and defamation likely impacting future earning power is actionable.
The standard of private adult conduct among a young peer group should be at issue in any such litigation, not norms among among an older generation. The standard in the group at issue is not to be judged but to be applied, should litigation ensue. By analogy, medical malpractice is judged by the general level of practice in the community, not by what is possible but not normal, regular practice. Proper standards among the group at issue needs to be discerned, and then facts judged by them. Judgment by peers is a rather basic thing.
A 50+ year old divorcee cannot set a value standard for personal private off-campus lawful conduct of adults of a substantially younger age set, i.e., present college age men and women among their peer group. The accounts as put into the news are of a volitional drinking, party hopping, sexual decision of one woman without any accounts of her staggering from party to party with slurred speech, or barfing at any point including the morning after. Those young men, under all the facts now public including police evaluation of a 90 sec video and there never being real proof of any strong wanting to keep mouth closed and knees together. Ambiguous conflicting testimony well after the fact is thin ice for a University to be skating upon in going public with extreme punishment and shaming and naming of young men in ways that might harm future earning power in the profession they are pursuing at the University. There are implied terms of basic decency and respect for privacy running from the institution to its students. The police were discrete and the prosecutor did not bandy names about irresponsibly. Others, highly paid top level administrators of a learning institution did that. If privacy means a thing; what does it mean? Go figure. Those young men should sue and peer group standards should be the measure in such litigation. Privacy was invaded.
To me, binge drinking and party-hopping is ill-thought-out behavior, I judge it that way; but is it the norm among the current crop of TC campus students? If so, there are ways to discourage it beyond fear-mongering of the "this could happen to you" publicized punishment of young men who broke no law. "Making an example" is insensitive to the harm inflicted upon the "example" individuals.
Students who make grade point; remaining qualified to continue study that way, can lead private lives consonant with the law and not expect to be conceptually tarred-and-feathered by administrators who should know better and should have a better perspective of the nuances involved in administrative conduct. So, did the administrators collectively or any one of them act unreasonably?
If any litigation were to ensue, reasonableness of administrative conduct would be at issue. Hence, it might be relevant if there was discussion among Ms. Hewitt and her official subordinates (and/or between her and/or Coyle and/or Kaler) about "making an example" as that would relate to hostile bias and intent, making the invasion of privacy and defamation willful and ill-motivated; and thus worsening the character of administrative offense against the young athletes.
THEY SHOULD SUE. MAKING AN EXAMPLE SHOULD BE TESTED JUDICIALLY AS PROPER OR LESS. WIN OR LOSE, ADMINISTRATIVE CONDUCT IN THIS SITUATION NEEDS TESTING AND IF JUDGED WRONG THEN HAM-HANDED USE OF ADMINISTRATIVE POWER SHOULD STOP, WITH DUE COMPENSATION AWARDED TO THE SUFFERERS.
Consider Winfield Sr. and Winfield Jr. Winfield Sr. chose a profession pursued in college from which he became a millionaire, next level, after graduation. Has the TC campus university administration wrongly impacted Winfield Jr. rights to also so progress? Go figure.
FURTHER: If an ex parte restraining order was wrongfully obtained; under false swearing perhaps; then should the person so swearing and/or counsel be held to have defamed those five particular athletes who already suffered game-time suspensions? Wrongful pursuit of a restraining order is offensive; is it not? Should it be a basis for instituting and continuing litigation, or should wrongful pursuit of a restraining order be dismissed as Rule 12 failure to state a cause of action. Is there precedent on the question, specifically in obtaining an ex parte order? In general, there is In re Drexler, 188 NW 2d 436 (Minn. 1971), (and its footnotes) the case having clear language against "conduct [which] constituted a fraud on the administration of justice;" Id at 437. Whether false swearing was involved is a fact question particular to the circumstances of the case; it not being in the press the content of the affidavit submitted in support of obtaining a restraining order; nor the specific text of the restraining order. What has been reported is because the complainant had game-day duties in the stadium and the five athletes were restrained from the entire stadium and not some particular part of the stadium where the woman worked; the thing was arguably overbroad at the time obtained. We do not know the facts. If the complainant's game-time job was sideline and also close to coaching staff on some daily basis; there needs to be attention and concern over an employment where Strib reported the woman apparently was showing an underaged recruit a good time. Kaler and Coyle should be looking at that and acting to find athletic department fault, if there was any.
FURTHER: More evidence is now in the public domain. The EOAA 80-page report is online; see Strib online here and KSTP TV online here. This notice is given before that item was read; so that Crabgrass readers could check out the item with each able to form separate opinions. Evidence is always the most important thing.
FURTHER: Having not read the full EOAA item (but much of it), ambiguity appears and EOAA personnel attribute credibility to the women, not to the men. It is unclear what motivations and underlying belief sets accompany and possibly influence this credibility determination, and they talked to the woman first.
Readers should weigh the report however they believe best.
I believe the boycott settlement that there'd be a subsequent due process hearing accorded to the involved athletes is a necessary step.
I choose to wonder about EOAA credibility, the report not stating who/how many EOAA persons had input nor does it get into internal policy discussions among EOAA staff. Too many questions are left begging and too much appeared conclusory in one direction.
The process seems flawed. The precise role of EOAA personnel regarding the restraining order and the restraining order scope and processing details are strangely omitted. That is the event which called the situation to the attention of the press - athletes being barred from the stadium, and whether the restraining order's scope including a bar from games was at all proper is unclear.
Something in the EOAA report is troubling, footnote 8, EOAA possible coordination of the restraining order proceeding. Nothing is reported in the press about no contact except the athletic building the woman worked in and the stadium. That is curious given p.4 of the report noting the woman resides at "the Radius" housing, where events happened, but a different floor of the place; and press reporting did not state anything about restraint locations within the housing building.
Again, the restraining order has not, to my knowledge, been published by the press. But it was an ex parte thing, and the exact role of EOAA persons in that part of things needs to be fully fleshed out. Others may believe justice does not need to question EOAA possible staff bias, but, why not? They played a major role. They accorded credibility to the complainant and Kaler/Coyle appear to have rather blindly accorded cursory credibility to that derivative credibility determination. There is a bit too much of the who do you trust business slanting all one way for me to not suggest much more factual detail is needed and that the administrative suspension/expulsion decisions may be largely if not totally flawed.
Were the student athletes advised at any points of their right to counsel? To have counsel present when talking to the EOAA personnel? For the benefit of the record and to weigh the quality of possible insinuation in questioning by EOAA staff. Punitive measures were in contemplation, which is what should be the trigger of a warning of a right to counsel and to have a statement (indeed all statements) taken of record with counsel present. Doubtlessly the police did their job, but what of EOAA duty to inform? If it is not a routine part of EOAA process, why not? The EOAA head is a licensed lawyer (as well as a second-generation UM high level administrative appointee), and should know and accord basic due process norms.
Reading a report necessarily entails judgments by the reader. When a report is all one-way and there's no preserved verbatim record and right to counsel was not made apparent (if such actually was the case), then you can trust it all you want but I do not. Ditto, ex parte proceedings.
Mixing advocacy with adjudicatory duties clearly denies due process, and the EOAA role in wording of and attainment of the restraining order is for now an unreported thing; i.e., for now a total mystery in the public's mind. With the boycott settlement involving due process hearing rights for the student athletes it is imperative it be clean slate, de novo; i.e., with no precedential weight or deference accorded the off-record EOAA operation as if an appeal. Kaler and Coyle appear to have premised actions in deference to the questionable EOAA business.
Lots and lots and lots of loose ends and hanging threads to be tied together exist, and careers are impacted and back to the start of things, the boycott was laudable and helpful - it blasted administrators off their self-centered dimes to permit a due process hearing. This is good, and the bowl game remains Minnesota vs. Washington State.
NEXT TO LAST THOUGHT: What unpins my bullshit meter. EOAA leadership had to know this was a high profile matter, and indeed seem to have had the intention of making it so. They don't need a court reporter and a transcript. They've video equipment for Christ's sake, and could and should have recorded every statement taken, especially the part at the start of questioning any student athlete advising rights. These young men were targeted. They deserved a record preserved, and a hundred and eighty or three hundred and eighty pages of EOAA staff words do nothing to discredit that reality. The process was flawed and a proper de novo process is the only real unbiased remedy at this point. Both Kaler and Coyle, if fair people, should also want and insist upon that in the course of honestly reevaluating their prior decision making. Would you trust less, were you parent of one of the young men? Then, Kaler and Coyle should be intensely interested in EOAA involvement in the wording and attainment of the restraining order - why the entire stadium, was "the Radius" apartment mentioned; whys and why-nots??? At a bet the campus police would have handled things better than EOAA did, as far as preserving a record for review. Eighty pages of words can have many words of sophistry within; actual questioning processes and answers video-recorded cannot lie, nor shade truth of what actual testimony was and whether minimal advising of rights was a part of EOAA's "effort."
That restraining order question in my mind is critical. This appears to arguably be a second-bite-at-the-apple attempt to tar the football program via questioning sexual conduct of players; and by excluding a number of athletes from the stadium it appears engineered to put things into the press rather than respecting player privacy; and if EOAA personnel top level or otherwise had a hand in engineering restraining order language the question is quite serious, given second bite effort after the first bite resulted as it did; MPR having reported Oct. 15, 2015:
A July 16 email exchange between then-Athletic Director Norwood Teague and Kimberly Hewitt, head of the university's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office, outlined several complaints raised about football players during the 2014-2015 school year.
"The notable number of Title IX-related concerns we have received involving football players, and the fact that three of the complaints involved groups of football players, demonstrates a concerning pattern of football player conduct that we believe requires responsive action," Hewitt wrote to Teague and now-interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz.
Hewitt called it a "potential pattern" that may or may not be indicative of a broader problem. She said the EOAA received what she described as a number of "concerns" involving football players related to Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender for federally-funded education program or activity.
Hewitt listed two concerns of sexual assault committed by individual football players, two concerns of sexual harassment involving groups of football players and one concern of retaliation involving a group of football players.
Her office investigated one of the sexual harassment complaints and found one football player violated the sexual harassment policy. It also investigated the retaliation complaint, finding what she called concerning behavior, but not evidence of violations of university policy.
The other sexual harassment concern and the two sexual assault concerns were not investigated because the reporting students did not want to move forward with an investigation, according to the email, which was released by the university after it was detailed in a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Hewitt "proactively contacted the Athletics Department to initiate discussions on whether reports of sexual assault and harassment constituted a broader pattern. All of these reports were fully investigated to the extent that they could be and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) did not substantiate any sexual assault allegations. The EOAA Office substantiated one allegation of sexual harassment," Goetz said in a statement Thursday.
The details of the five incidents are not outlined in the email exchange. A U spokesperson said that no criminal charges resulted from any of the complaints or incidents.
"Title IX requires that the University take reasonable steps to prevent future sexual violence and harassment after receiving a complaint, even when the complaining student chooses not to pursue an investigation," Hewitt wrote in the July email exchange. "The University's responsibility to act is greater when circumstances suggest that there is an increased risk of future acts of sexual violence or harassment by a particular group or where there is a potentially concerning pattern."
In light of that history, one should want a lawyer holding a top UM position to improve procedures "next time," and not to improve any "get 'em" prejudgment outlook, but to assure full and total due process and respect of privacy so that flawed procedure could not be an issue "next time." Instead, this "stay out of the stadium" restraining order scope, read in its historical light, suggests troubling maneuvering at a UM upper administration level. As in engineering a confrontation instead of respect for pre-determination privacy. It's a red flag.
The press needs to track down the restraining order record and report it, and Kaler and Coyle need to confront Hewitt about EOAA involvement, if any, in restraining order drafting shenanigans, if any. There's a miasma, in a context, and it should not be swept under a rug. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
LAST THOUGHT - RETALIATION: Kaler and Coyle hopefully have learned to be restrained in rubber stamping anything. The boycotting players hopefully taught the head honchos something which head honchos might well remember. Coaching support of the player boycott should not have any retaliation. NONE WHATSOEVER. The coaches were correct about the boycott, the administrators wrong, in my judgment (with which many appear to disagree).
The other side of the coin is the football program was on notice, and there was a recurrence. This is bad. To what extent is the coaching staff responsible for player conduct off campus? Back to the question of in loco parentis. Coaching duty is to recruit the best talent the program can attract and to field the best team effort with the players who sign on and maintain however they do, their academic eligibility. The coaches are not parent surrogates, for adult students, living off campus. To the extent the UM has too much a party culture; that would be a generic question, not one focused upon athletics. If academic standards are too lax, and a party culture among students predominates, it is not a football problem per se and Kaler if nobody else should know that and figure a way to fix it.
Otherwise, what's the man's job? Highly compensated figurehead, schmoozer of the regents and alums; what? Some schools require freshmen students to live on campus; and some schools have athletic dorms, for which coaches bear some responsibility beyond assuring a healthy meal table.