Tracy Claeys went out on a limb for his players a few weeks ago, with suspensions and expulsion hearings coming for some of the 10 players named in a Title IX investigation back in October.
On Tuesday, Claeys’ public stance got him fired after he privately agreed to back the administration in the suspension decisions earlier in the week before his Tweet.
Claeys tweeted: “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their efforts to make a better world.”
Those words apparently were Tweeted out after a team meeting in which Claeys made it very clear that he was putting it all on the line for those who put on the Gophers uniform every weekend for him.
According to reports, Claeys told his players that publicly backing them would “likely lead to me getting fired.”
CLAEYS TOLD WCCO (830-AM) THAT WHEN PLAYERS WERE HEADED TOWARD A BOYCOTT LAST WEEK, HE TOLD THEM, “THERE’S A GREAT CHANCE I COULD LOSE MY JOB OVER THIS.”
That’s exactly what happened, and yet for the 18 to 22 crowd in the Gophers locker room this all comes as a shock.
Let’s just say the players emotions are pretty raw and they let it all out on the one platform that is all about the negativity these days — Twitter.
Freshman linebacker Carter Coughlin led the way:
How can someone makes such an idiotic decision…
— Carter Coughlin (@Cmoe34) January 3, 2017
— Kamal Martin (@KamalMartin6) January 3, 2017
Even alum’s got in the mix with their feelings about Claeys and this situation…
Really Make it hard to be a proud Alum sometimes! Claeys waz a great coach and did a damn good job this year!
— MarQueis Gray (@MarQueisG) January 3, 2017
Wow!!!! Now u fire the coach after he get the 9th Win, after all the AD had to say to my brothers was, Let's Get this 9th Win SMDH!Scapegoat
— Tyrone Carter (@TyroneCarter954) January 3, 2017
Leaving aside the debate about Title IX investigations and due process, how dense do the players have to be?
Claeys literally told his players what the potential consequence of his back-tracking and backing would do. It is also literally what happened. How shocked could one person really be when presented with the potential consequences?
Do they really believe that Claeys was going to be allowed to go back on his word to the AD and not suffer some consequences? Do they really expect us to believe that winning is the only thing that matters?
However, one player tweet did shed some light on the bigger issue here — players vs. the administration. The players have a real fear that the administration is just railroading these players without a real chance at defense and aren’t listening to the players concerns at all.
That was voiced by Jalen Myrick:
Fire the coach that stick with his players .. it's sad how this administration doesn't care about the players at all
— Jalen Myrick (@5__On__It) January 3, 2017
These reactions showcase a fractured football program and athletic department. It also means the next head coach is going to have a lot of healing to do within his own locker room.
It’s going to be an interesting January in the Gophers football building to say the least.