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ruling next week after hearings for 10 suspended gophers players

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ruling next week after hearings for 10 suspended gophers players

a ruling is expected next week on the educational futures of 10 suspended gophers football players.

after two long days of closed-door hearings at the university of minnesota, there were no hints about what their fates might be.

in more than 20 hours stretched over thursday and friday afternoons and nights, a three-person student ual ault subcommittee heard from lawyers for the players, the players themselves, the alleged victim and school administrators.

the players, who want to remain enrolled in the u, have appealed the penalties recommended against them by the u’s office of equal opportunity and affirmative action. expulsion from pus has been recommended for five player — ray buford, carlton djam, kiante hardin, dior johnson and tamarion johnson. one-year suspensions were recommendedy for seth green, kobe mccrary, mark williams and antoine winfield jr. probation was recommended antonio shenault.

the proposed punishments are the result of an alleged incident last fall in a dinkytown apartment in which a female student alleged that she was ually aulted. criminal prosecutors twice declined to press charges against the players, who say ual activity with the female student was consensual.

attorney lee hutton, who is representing nine of the men, has said “nothing nefarious” happened in that apartment.

all 10 players were at thursday’s and friday’s hearings with their lawyers. the young men filed in quietly each day, some accompanied by their parents.

attorney ryan pacyga, who is representing one player, has acted as the players’ spokesman throughout the hearings. as the sessions broke for dinner friday evening, pacyga said it’s been a “marathon” for the players and everyone else involved.

pacyga said friday that the accused players called on witnesses to testify, including former coach tracy claeys, who spoke to the proceedings via phone.

“he wasn’t going overboard to try to support the players,” pacyga said of claeys’ testimony. “it seemed to be very fair testimony.”

the u “surprised” pacyga and his client last night by clarifying the role the player played in the alleged ault, he said.

“the university is not going after mr. [antoine] winfield jr. for any alleged ual conduct nor any alleged request for any ual contact with the reporting student,” pacyga said.

pacyga said the student is now being accused of being outside the bedroom door during the alleged ual ault.

“i don’t know if it’s a break,” he said. “but nonetheless, i’m grateful the issue was narrowed, because it was vague and wide up to that point.”

pacyga added that others got a similar break, but would not say whom.

the u is legally barred from speaking about the hearings, but the allegations shook the football team, athletic department and administration last month. the football players were suspended from the team, prompting their teammates to call for a boycott of a bowl game and culminating in the firing of claeys.

the players called off the boycott after a leaked 80-page report the eeoa detailed the alleged ual ault.

a decision will be issued next week by the student ual misconduct subcommittee hearing the players’ appeals. only two of the three members of the panel need to agree to uphold — or reject — the punishments.

the standard is much lower than that used in a criminal court. the panel is asked to determine whether it is “more than likely” that the students violated the code of conduct. in a criminal court, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and jurors must reach a unanimous decision.

details about the hearings aren’t public. the alleged victim testified for three hours thursday and players’ lawyers presented their case friday.

next week’s decision isn’t likely to end the matter. the players have the option of appealing to the provost. if that doesn’t go their way, their lawyers say they will take the case to federal court.

twitter: @rochelleolson