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University of Minnesota fires football coach after team’s boycott over sexual assault charges

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The University of Minnesota fired its head football coach on Tuesday following an incident last month in which players staged a brief boycott in support of teammates who were suspended in connection with a sexual assault investigation.

Tracy Claeys, 48, was dismissed with pay on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the university’s athletic director, Mark Coyle, who said the Golden Gophers needed to move in a new direction and address the “culture of the program.”

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Players announced last month that they would not partake in team activities until 10 players were reinstated from suspensions that resulted from a university investigation into a sexual assault. Claeys supported the players in their push for more information about the investigation.

The team quickly reversed course and called off the boycott following a meeting between senior players and the university president. The school has not given a specific reason for the suspensions, citing privacy laws. No criminal charges were filed.

The team’s response to the suspensions immersed players in an ongoing national debate over how sexual assault accusations are handled on U.S. college campuses. Women’s rights advocates say assault has long been tolerated or not treated with appropriate seriousness.

“Moving forward, we need a leader who sets high expectations athletically, academically, and socially,” Coyle said.

Most of the rest of the coaching staff was also dismissed, the statement said.

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Claeys originally agreed with the suspension, according to Coyle, but then tweeted a message of support for the boycotting players, which Coyle said was “not helpful.”

A longtime assistant coach at Minnesota, Claeys was named head coach in November 2015 and signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract to lead the program.

Playing without the suspended players, Minnesota defeated the Washington State Cougars 17-12 in the National Funding Holiday Bowl in San Diego last month to finish the season with a 9-4 record.

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(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Alan Crosby)


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No vaccine, no carnival, Rio’s samba schools warn

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Some of Rio's biggest samba schools say they will not participate in next year's Carnival unless a coronavirus vaccine is widely available, Brazilian media reported Tuesday.

Five of the 12 top samba schools, including Mangueira and Beija Flor, told Brazil's O Globo newspaper they would vote to postpone the parades at a meeting set for Tuesday.

"It's simple. If there's no vaccine, there will be no samba," said the head of the Sao Clemente school, Renatinho Gomes.

"How can you gather crowds without collective immunity?"

The mayor of the northwestern city of Salvador de Bahia, where festivities also attract thousands of tourists, has proposed postponing the carnival season nationwide until April or June.

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New York couple point guns at Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their house

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A New York couple pointed guns at protesters marching past their house during a Black Lives Matter rally, and activists want them to be charged.

Protesters were nearing the end of their parade route when a white man came out of his home shouting obscenities in an apparent attempt to incite the group, and then yelled to his wife to get his gun, reported WNYT-TV.

Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, who took part in the march, said the woman came back outside and started waving the gun around.

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Australian columnist aghast at America’s ‘rotten’ COVID-19 response: ‘We are witnessing the fall of a great power’

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A columnist for an Australian newspaper has been watching the United States' response to the novel coronavirus with a mix of shock and horror -- and he now believes "we are witnessing the fall of a great power."

Crispin Hull, an editor and columnist for The Canberra Times, argues in his latest column that President Donald Trump's disastrous handling of the pandemic is symbolic of deep rot within the American political system.

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