Ousted Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys, in op-ed, defends leadership during suspension saga

Tracy Claeys-Minnesota

Very little went right for the University of Minnesota during a chain of events last year that saw 10 players suspended for their alleged roles in a sexual assault, a short-lived player boycott of the Holiday Bowl, and the firing of football coach Tracy Claeys.

A recent review of the entire saga by an independent law firm concluded that “weak leadership” by the coaching staff was to blame for much of the conflict.

That reflected poorly on Claeys, who responded in an op-ed in the Star Tribune. Claeys outlined his version of the events that led to his firing and why he did what he did, with the root of the conflict being that he and the players felt the Minnesota administration overstepped its bounds by suspending players despite no formal charges from law enforcement.

What’s not mentioned is the differing standards of evidence used by universities and criminal courts in these cases, namely the preponderance of evidence vs. beyond a reasonable doubt.

Claeys concluded that there were things he would have done differently, but that he’s proud of his former team and believes he prevented even worse fallout.

I like to think, though, that as a coach I respected my team’s decision, responsibly addressed the situation and quickly defused the boycott. Could it have been handled more smoothly? Maybe. Could it have gone much worse? Without a doubt.

For what he would change about his actions, Claeys said he would have have remained on campus during the worst of the conflict rather than attend a Holiday Bowl press conference. He also said he would have refrained from using social media to voice support for his players.

On those two decisions, Claeys accepted fault.

If that’s proof of “weak leadership” as outlined in the recent Dorsey & Whitney report, then I’m guilty and accept responsibility. If the same goes for refusing to pull the scholarships of those players who voted to boycott the bowl game, as a number of people demanded, then I’m weak there, as well.

From there, Clayes praised his players’ accomplishments on and off the field and concluded with this:

In the months that have passed since the Holiday Bowl and my dismissal as the University of Minnesota football coach, I’ve thought a lot about last season and what might help to move us forward. At the end of the day it is this: Be truthful, hold yourself and others accountable, be mindful of the feelings of others and respect their right to express them.

Sometimes as coaches we learn more from the players than they learn from us. And that’s a pretty good lesson in leadership.

The post Ousted Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys, in op-ed, defends leadership during suspension saga appeared first on Land of 10.

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