COLUMBIA — Missouri football's black players will boycott football activities until UM System President Tim Wolfe is removed from office, they announced on Twitter Saturday.
"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 players announced in a tweet sent from the Legion of Black Collegians account.
"We're working to get our hands around the facts of the situation right now," said Chad Moller, associate athletic director/athletic communication, said in a text message Saturday night.
Sixty of the 124 players listed on the Missouri football roster are black. It is undetermined how many of the players have agreed to the boycott. The team is next scheduled to play Saturday against Brigham Young at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. The game is scheduled to be televised on the SEC Network.
"At media day (Monday afternoon) we will be discussing this and answering questions on this topic," safety Thomas Wilson said in a message to the Missourian. Two other players refused to comment on the situation Saturday night.
The boycott comes a week into a hunger strike by MU graduate student Jonathan Butler. Butler sent a letter to the UM System Board of Curators on Nov. 2 announcing he would not eat until Wolfe was removed from office. Butler's decision came three weeks after Concerned Student 1950 stopped Wolfe’s car during the Homecoming Parade and a week after the group met privately with Wolfe.
Concerned Student 1950 is a student activism group spearheading the protests. It's named after the year black students were first admitted to Missouri.
Butler, a master's student in educational leadership and policy analysis, is protesting "a slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents that have dynamically disrupted the learning experience" at MU. His letter referenced incidents of black students being called racist slurs, the sudden removal of graduate student health insurance subsidies in August, MU's cancellation of Planned Parenthood contracts and the swastika drawn with human feces found in an MU residence hall on Oct. 24.
Missouri athletics department's official Twitter account released a statement at 10:03 p.m. reading: "The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many our student-athletes. We must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackles these challenging issues and we support our athletes right to do so."
According to Shelby Parnell and Storm Ervin, original members of Concerned Student 1950, a football player met with the group's leaders on Wednesday to discuss ways to involve the team. The player, who leaders declined to name, met with Butler .
The player came up with the idea of boycotting football activities, which include practices, games, workouts and team meetings.
Some team members told that player they pledged not to visit the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex until Wolfe is removed.
"They came to us talking about boycotting and what they had already done," Parnell said. "A lot of that meeting was spent talking about details."
Over the next three days, black football players mulled over the decision. Some doubted the impact their protest could have, Ervin said.
"You could tell a lot of people were questioning what if this happens or what if that happens," Parnell said. "A lot of things were solidified in that meeting.
"They were the ones who didn't realize their impact," Parnell added. "We were telling them, 'You don't realize how much power you have.'"
That original player talked with other teammates who agreed to the boycott, then informed coaches of the plan Saturday. Team strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey visited the Concerned Student 1950 camp on Mel Carnahan Quadrangle with former Missouri player Sean Coffey earlier in the day to tell group leaders' of the team's decision.
But some players, around 5 p.m., had second thoughts and called a meeting with the original 11 members of Concerned Student 1950 an hour later at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
They emerged at 9 p.m. with a decision to carry out the boycott. Thirty football players — including defensive end Charles Harris, tailback Russell Hansbrough, cornerback Aarion Penton, wide receiver J'Mon Moore and wide receiver Nate Brown — were pictured linking arms with Butler in a photo released by the Legion of Black Collegians.
Jacob Bogage contributed to this report.
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.