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Tracy Claeys: Fired as head coach of Gophers football

Hundreds of people have called for Claeys to be let go following a public sexual assault investigation involving Gophers players.

Tracy Claeys is done after one full season as head coach of the Gophers football team.

Claeys was scheduled to meet with Athletic Director Mark Coyle Tuesday. This afternoon, reports started trickling in that the head coach had been fired, including from the Minnesota DailyStar Tribune, KARE 11 and others.

University of Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle issued a statement confirming Claeys' termination.

"I determined that the football program must move in a new direction to address challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program. We need strong leadership to take Gopher football to the next level and address these challenges.

This decision is about the future of Minnesota football.

Moving forward, we need a leader who sets high expectations athletically, academically, and socially."

The football program has been embroiled in a sexual assault scandal this season. Twice, players were suspended in connection with the case – a woman said she was raped by multiple players during a party on Sept. 2.

That led to questions about whether Claeys should return, even though the team had success on the field. Thousands of people signed an online petition demanding the school fire Claeys, and a rally asking for the same was scheduled for Wednesday.

During his Tuesday evening press conference Coyle said there was no one incident that led up to his decision to terminate Claeys.

Claeys perhaps foresaw his own demise, last week he said he knew his support of the players’ boycott could cost him his job.

Meanwhile, current and former players are reacting on Twitter.

The suspensions and investigation

Four players were initially suspended in September, and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office opted not to file criminal charges. Then in December a total of 10 players were suspended, and the school's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action completed an investigation detailing the woman's allegations.

She described a line of men who took turns having sex with her, even though she objected and told them to stop.

The county attorney's office reviewed the case again and called the conduct "deplorable" – but said there was not enough evidence to make criminal charges viable.

The Gophers football team had threatened to boycott their bowl game, but relented days later.

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