Over 30 football players at the University of Missouri will not participate in any practices or games until Missouri System president Tim Wolfe resigns or is terminated.
Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians posted a statement on half of the team along with a photo of players unified in support of the boycott.
We're black. Black is powerful. Our struggle may look different, but we are all #ConcernedStudent1950 pic.twitter.com/obCjSWCFVY
— HeMadeAKing (@1Sherrils_2MIZZ) November 8, 2015
via USA Today:
Wolfe’s response to a series of racist incidents has been considered inadequate by many students who believe racism has poisoned the campus. A graduate student, Jonathan Butler, announced earlier in the week he was going on a hunger strike until Wolfe was removed. The most recent racist incident came Oct. 24 when a swastika was drawn with human feces on a college dorm’s white wall.
Sophomore defensive back Anthony Sherrils tweeted: “The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe “Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere” We will no longer participate in any football related activities until president Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!!”
Several more African-American players, including senior running back and team captain Russell Hansbrough, followed with a series of passionate tweets. Missouri’s student body is 77% white and 7% black, while 58 of the school’s 84 scholarship football players are African-American.
Missouri’s athletic department issued a statement saying it’s “aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.”
Junior cornerback John Gibson tweeted that the Tigers’ coaching staff and white teammates were also in support of the strike. And offensive lineman Paul Adams, a white player, expressed his support publicly on Twitter.
In the 15 months since African-American teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., universities around the country have become home to protests. Missouri’s campus in Columbia sits about two hours west of Ferguson.
Wolfe is the president for the Missouri System, which consists of four universities: University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou), University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri S&T and University of Missouri Kansas City. Missouri’s chancellor is R. Bowen Loftin.
Wolfe issued a statement apologizing for his reaction at Missouri’s homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached his car. “My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in the moment,” he wrote. “I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university — and it does exist.”
The most recent previous strike in college football came at Grambling State in 2013 when players protested for poor working conditions.
Missouri lost Thursday to Mississippi State, 31-13. Its next slated game is Nov. 14 against BYU.
Could you imagine what kind of effect a boycott like this would have on a national scale?
Update: Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel shared the below photo of the entire team supporting the boycott.