Kansas rewards Leipold with extension through 2027 season

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas added an additional year to football coach Lance Leipold‘s contract Thursday that will keep him on the sideline through the 2027 season, a reward for a two-win first year that raised hopes for a long-awaited turnaround.

Leipold was hired last year, shortly after the Jayhawks parted with Les Miles following a winless season and amid sexual harassment allegations from his time at LSU. And despite never having an opportunity to put together a full recruiting class or working with his team in spring football, Leipold’s progress was evident in a late-season upset of Texas.

Leipold’s original contract was a $16.5 million, six-year pact that paid him $2.2 million in its initial season with annual $200,000 increases. He also would earn $50,000 for finishing in the Top 25, earning Big 12 coach of the year or winning seven regular-season games; $75,000 for reaching a certain academic benchmark; $100,000 for qualifying for a bowl game; and $500,000 if the Jayhawks would play for a national title.

“This is a statement about our exceptional confidence in Lance, his outstanding staff and the unlimited potential of Kansas football,” said Jayhawks athletic director Travis Goff, who was hired shortly before he chose Leipold as his coach.

“When you consider he and his staff did not arrive until May (2021), and therefore did not have a chance to coach our guys until August last year, the 2021 season could be considered `Year 0,”‘ Goff explained. “Given the progress that’s been made both on and off the field in such short order, I could not feel more strongly about the trajectory of this program.”

Kansas opens this season Friday night against Tennessee Tech.

Leipold was a popular pick among Kansas fans because of his Midwest pedigree, small-town roots and ability to build a program. He won six Division III national championships in eight seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, then proved he could win at the Division I level when he spent three years rebuilding Buffalo, followed by three straight bowl games.

Along with upsetting the Longhorns last season, the Jayhawks put a scare into Oklahoma and lost one-possession games to TCU and West Virginia – further evidence that the culture Leipold was trying to build had taken root.

Earlier this week, Leipold showed his affinity for the Jayhawks by announcing an endowment fund established along with his wife to provide financial support for an on-field graduate assistant for the football program.

“It shows, I think, our commitment and our appreciation,” Leipold said. “We’re going to need a lot from everybody and you have to do it yourself sometimes. We’ve tried to do certain things at each stop because we think it’s important. The timing of the year, that didn’t play a part in our thought process at all. We’re just happy we could do it.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.