It was a Thursday night, Nov. 5. The University of Missouri Tigers fell to a fellow SEC team, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 31-13. The Tigers dropped to 4-5 on the year and began preparations for next week’s matchup against the BYU Cougars … or so they thought.
Meanwhile, off the field, a crisis in the community was about to boil over as many reports of race-related issues came to light on the University of Missouri’s campus.
Amid the reported racial tension and lack of appropriate action to alleviate it, roughly 30 black members on the team vowed not to practice until university president Tim Wolfe resigned.
There have been multiple reports of race-related issues, but it is unlikely anyone expected this result.
To provide a little perspective, Missouri plays in one of the premier conferences in college football. Despite their 1-5 conference record, should the Tigers win their remaining three games, they are eligible for a postseason bowl game. Essentially, the season was not yet lost. They still had something to play for.
However, these student-athletes boycotted the university until the man who should have fixed the problem was forced out of office.
Naturally, this decision drew a variety of responses. Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel announced he and his staff were backing his players. He also added the team was united in this decision. However, ESPN reported some of the team was not too pleased with the boycott. A particular athlete said, “Half of the team and coaches — black and white — are (angry). … If we were 9-0, this wouldn’t be happening.”
However, the boycott worked. Two days after the boycott began, Wolfe stepped down. He eventually took responsibility for the current tension on the campus in which he was entrusted to oversee.
The Tigers intend to hold up their end of the bargain, as an ESPN report said they will return to practice. Within a span of three days, a group of NCAA athletes were able to remove a man who did not adequately do his job. Amazingly, about 30 football players — who still had much to play for — were willing to put it all on hold for the sake of the institution and its students.
This was not a group of boys crying until they got what they wanted. This is a group of young men who stood for something they deserved.
HAYWOOD is the editor-in-chief.