A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a group of former University of Minnesota football players disciplined for an alleged 2016 sexual assault has been dismissed.
The lawsuit named the U of M Board of Regents, U of M President Eric Kaler and U of M Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Director Tina Marisam as defendants. Those filing the legal action are a group of former Gopher football athletes who were disciplined after it was alleged they repeatedly sexually assaulted a student at an on-campus apartment as others watched and cheered.
While no criminal charges were filed in the matter, the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) Office opened its own investigation of the incident. The report issued by the EOAA found it was more likely than not that some of the athletes had violated university code and should be disciplined.
After the report was issued U of M Athletics Director Mark Coyle suspended 10 players for the team's upcoming bowl game. It was eventually recommended by the University Office of Student Conduct and Academic Inquiry that five of the students face expulsion, while four would be suspended for a year and one other serve probation.
The athletes did not accept those sanctions, instead requesting a formal hearing before the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee, which reduced the penalties for five of the players.
The civil lawsuit that followed in June of 2018 alleged that defendants faced gender and racial discrimination as African American males, had their equal protection and due process rights violated, and a handful of other violations of their civil rights. After reviewing the action, U.S. District Court Justice Donovan Frank disagreed, ruling Monday that the players' lawsuit should be dismissed on all counts.