The events at the University of Missouri-Columbia during the past two weeks have been covered extensively in the news media. LBN’s Ryan Gaumont notes that Mizzou athletes made some of the biggest news. The protests over racism began to gather a lot of attention on November 2 when graduate student Jonathon Butler went on a hunger strike, vowing not to eat until President Tim Wolfe left office.
Butler’s hunger strike got the attention of the Mizzou football team. Over the weekend, the team’s black players declared that they would not practice or play until Tim Wolfe resigned. Then on Sunday, Coach Gary Pinkel tweeted that “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.”
On Monday, President Wolfe and Mizzou Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepped down. Protests about racism on the campus had not been met with what the protesters considered to be appropriate action by the university’s leaders. However, the strike by the football players got everyone’s attention.
The football team’s action had the potential of being very expensive for the school. Mizzou will be playing Brigham Young University this Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Had Mizzou failed to appear, the university would have been liable for a $1million dollar cancellation penalty under the contract between the two schools.
College athletes everywhere have surely taken notice that a football team was able to take down a university president in two days simply by saying that they would not play. The Mizzou experience seems to signal that college athletes are gaining power at their schools. Whether they will ever be paid as employees is still an open question. However, the Mizzou players’ strike may be the opening shot in that battle.
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