Missouri pres. resigns amid criticism of handling of racial issues

University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe has resigned, effective immediately.

Under criticism and pressure from students for his alleged disregard for campus racial issues, Wolfe announced his decision Monday at a UM Board of Curators meeting.

"To our students, from Concerned Student 1950 to grad students, football players and other students, the frustration and anger I see is clear, real," Wolfe said, according to the Columbia Tribune. "I don't doubt it for a second. Please, please use this resignation to heal, not to hate. And let's move forward together for a brighter tomorrow."

Pressure on Wolfe had risen of late when UM grad student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike that reached its eighth day on Monday, and after dozens of UM football players agreed to boycott football-related activities until Wolfe resigned or was removed from office. Following Wolfe's resignation, players will return to practice Tuesday and go forward with Saturday's game against BYU at the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium. After Wolfe announced his resignation, Butler wrote in a tweet that he was ending the hunger strike. The school faculty had also organized a walk-out.

One player said Sunday that the football team was not fully united in the decision to boycott.

Later Monday, Missouri chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced he's resigning, effective at the end of the year. Nine University of Missouri deans called for Loftin's resignation in a letter delivered Monday to the school's Board of Curators.

Wolfe had faced criticism for months for a lack of action in response to allegations of racial slurs on campus. The problem grew Oct. 10 when a student group, Concerned Student 1950, formed a human chain around Wolfe's car in the school's homecoming parade, only to be removed by police as Wolfe remained in the car.

Missouri Athletic Director Mack Rhoades and coach Gary Pinkel said their support of the players was rooted in their concern for Butler's life, and the players' concern, and not in Wolfe's removal.

"We understand that not participating in an athletic activity is an extreme measure, and by no means do we believe this is an ideal way to provoke change or deal with our problems," Rhoades said.

Pinkel said the alarm his players indicated for Butler's health drove his decision to support the boycott, which he did via social media.

"The description they were talking about with (Butler) was not very good," Pinkel said.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon issued a statement which read, in part: "Tim Wolfe's resignation was a necessary step toward healing and reconciliation on the University of Missouri campus, and I appreciate his decision to do so. There is more work to do, and now the University of Missouri must move forward -- united by a commitment to excellence, and respect and tolerance for all."

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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