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Missouri Football Players Promise to Sit Out Unless President Resigns

In an escalation of racial tensions on campus, African-American athletes appear to be ready to boycott the football program until changes are made

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that is likely to add rocket fuel to what had, until recently, been a very local story, Missouri's African-American football players appear to be ready to boycott the program's games unless the school's president resigns. The statement was tweeted out from an account that I've been assured by Missouri people I trust is a legit source.

For a lot of us -- self included -- the entire story will come as something of a shock. But there have been simmering racial tensions at Missouri for weeks now, and African-American students have not been satisfied with the response from campus officials. Taking up the banner of 1950 -- the first year that African-Americans were allowed to attend Missouri -- is a signal of just how serious the students feel the problems are.

With the move by the football players, though, Missouri is navigating a public relations land mine in addition to what appear to be very real racial concerns that no campus in the South wants to deal with. (And as much as we tend to think of Missouri as the Midwest, non-Southern member of the SEC, it was a border state in the Civil War.) Even if only some of the players follow through, it's still going to be embarrassing for the school and the program.

The white players at Mizzou and Gary Pinkel are going to have to address this -- reporters will ask about it if nothing else -- and the program's administration now has roughly a week to try to make sure that the boycott doesn't take hold. That's going to require an incredible exertion on their part. And neither side seems willing to back down just yet.