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Missouri football players say they’re on strike until school president is removed

Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers is among the Tigers joining campus-wide protests. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Some members of the Missouri football team announced on Saturday that they will go on strike until the school’s president, Tim Wolfe, steps down or is forced to leave.

The boycott is part of a student movement against the school administration’s response to a series of alleged racist incidents around campus. A graduate student, Jonathan L. Butler, began a hunger strike in protest of Wolfe on Nov. 2.

[Black grad student on hunger strike in Mo. after swastika drawn with human feces]

In a tweet posted on the Legion of Black Collegians account, “the athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team” said, “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.” The tweets included a photo of many black Missouri football players linked arm-in-arm, along with a hashtag, #ConcernedStudent1950, which refers to the year in which Missouri first admitted black students.

On Friday, Wolfe issued this statement:

“Racism does exist at our university, and it is unacceptable.
“It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case.”

Tigers cornerback John Gibson, in a Twitter exchange Saturday, said that the team’s coaches were “100% behind” the players’ actions.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that a Tigers spokesman said in a text that the team is “working to get our hands around the facts of the situation” and there “might be a statement to follow.”

If the players follow through with their strike, the team may have difficulty fielding a team for its remaining slate. Coming up on Missouri’s schedule are games against BYU, Tennessee and Arkansas, and the 4-5 squad is still in contention for a possible bowl bid.

The Missouri athletic department released a statement Saturday night: