Minnesota players coming to Holiday Bowl after rescinding boycott

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SAN DIEGO — The Minnesota football team is scheduled to arrive in San Diego Friday for an appearance in Tuesday’s 39th annual Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium that was nearly derailed by a player boycott.

Golden Gophers players announced a boycott of all football activities Dec. 15 in an effort to reinstate 10 suspended teammates.

The players ended the boycott Saturday following “many hours of discussion within our team” and a meeting with university President Eric Kaler when “it became clear that our original request of having the 10 suspensions overturned was not going to happen,” senior receiver Drew Wolitarsky.

Kaler and Director of Athletics Mark Coyle agreed last Friday night to give all 10 players “a fair hearing, which includes a diverse review panel” and a “showing of support for our team and the character shown by the great majority of our players,” Wolitarsky said.

The agreement also included the pledge by the team’s senior group “that we as a team will use our status as public figures to bring more exposure to the issue of sexual harassment and violence against women,” Wolitarsky said.

More details of those plans will be announced later, said Wolitarsky, a graduate of Canyon High School in the Los Angeles County community of Santa Clarita.

Kaler said he was “very pleased that the football team has realized the opportunity to represent the University of Minnesota. They’ve come out strongly in support of the victims of sexual violence and I have promised a very fair hearing to the students involved.”

The suspensions came in response to a sexual assault investigation that did not result in criminal charges, but did lead to an investigation by the school’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.

Minnesota will stay at the Hilton Bayfront downtown and practice at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

Washington State, which will face the Golden Gophers, arrived Thursday.

The teams will jointly tour the America-class amphibious assault ship USS America on Saturday. Washington State will visit the San Diego Zoo on Sunday, the same day Minnesota goes to SeaWorld.