Missouri football players go on strike, coach expresses support

Dozens of Missouri football players are refusing to participate in football-related activities until school president Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed from office.

Wolfe has been criticized for his handling of racial tension on campus, including accusations of racial slurs. Most recently, graduate student Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike in protest of Wolfe's alleged disregard for issues facing black students. Butler's hunger strike reached its fifth day Saturday.

The players announced their intentions via social media on Saturday, through a school group called the Legion of Black Collegians:

The photo includes 32 men, including Butler, and football players including defensive end Charles Harris, cornerback Aarion Penton, and running back Russell Hansbrough, according to the Columbia Missourian. On Sunday, Concerned Student 1950 released a list of demands.

The school released a statement shortly after the players made their announcement that read: "The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so."

On Sunday, Wolfe indicated no intentions to resign in a statement released by the school. Instead, he said that changes will come to address racially charged incidents at the school as part of a system-wide diversity and inclusion strategy and plan that's due to be announced next April.

Wolfe said in a statement Sunday that it's clear "change is needed" and that he appreciates the "thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns."

The black players did not say explicitly whether they would boycott the team's three remaining games this season if Wolfe doesn't resign or is removed from office. The Tigers' next game is Saturday against BYU at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, and canceling it could cost the school millions.

On Sunday, head coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity with the players on Twitter by posting a picture of the team and coaches locking arms.

Also on Sunday, Pinkel and Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades issued a joint statement, saying that there was no football practice or formal team activities on Sunday.

The athletic department said Saturday that it supports "our student-athletes' right" to "tackle these challenging issues."

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wolfe's car in the Missouri homecoming parade was blocked by students who formed a human chain as they attempted to speak with him.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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