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Reports: Panel clears 4 Gopher football players, expels 4 others

Appeals hearings were held last week for 10 players suspended in a sexual assault scandal

A University of Minnesota panel has reportedly cleared four of the 10 Gopher football players implicated in the school's investigation of an alleged sexual assault last fall.

The panel agreed with investigators' recommendation that four other players be expelled, several media outlets reported, and said the other two players should be suspended for a year.

The 10 players were suspended from the football team in December and a copy of the university's investigation into the September sexual assault allegation was leaked to KSTP. It concluded the players had violated the student code of conduct and said five of them should be expelled, four suspended for a year, and the other put on probation.

Last week, in two days of closed-door hearings, the players and their lawyers appealed to the Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee.

The university released no statement about the outcome of the hearings.

But KARE 11 says Lee Hutton III, a lawyer who represents nine of the 10 players, released this statement Friday evening:

"Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield Jr. are very pleased to be vindicated by the panel's rulings. The allegations against them were unwarranted and could have greatly harmed their bright futures. They look forward to putting this incident behind them and moving ahead in their academic and athletic pursuits. The remaining student-athletes are very disappointed by the panel's rulings and are exploring their options in consultation with their families."

The Star Tribune says the panel reduced the punishment of Carlton Djam from an expulsion to a one-year suspension and upheld the year-long suspension of Mark Williams. The four players who face being expelled are Tamarian Johnson, Dior Johnson, KiAnte Hardin, and Ray Buford.

Those players could now take an appeal of their punishments to the U of M's provost, KSTP reports.

The scandal was a factor in the university's decision to fire football coach Tracy Claeys, who was succeeded last month by former Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck.

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