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Michael Sam Celebrates U. Missouri President’s Resignation as ‘One More Step Forward’

Michael Sam, the openly gay football player who competed at the University of Missouri from 2009-13, tweeted his delight after Mizzou president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday morning.

Sam, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, said of Wolfe’s resignation, “I respect Tim Wolfe, but there had been issues on this campus in my time and before me. People on this campus, especially African-Americans, believe they’ve been ignored and do not have a voice. And President Wolfe would just pretty much wave it off—until the football team said something. That’s when the wheels got turned. Wolfe said one person couldn’t make a difference, but boom.”

The one person Sam referred to, Jonathan Butler, a graduate student who started a self-imposed hunger strike, had stopped eating last week in order to force the removal of Wolfe. According to CNN, after he got news of Wolfe’s resignation, Wolfe tweeted, “More change is to come!! #TheStruggleContinues.”

Sam added, “It always starts with sports. Not just the football team, but sports in general. Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe. Nothing came to be without the football team’s help. Black or white, gay or straight, we are a family. And family sticks together.”

Last week Sam spoke with Butler last week on the third day of the hunger strike, Sam recollected, “He just hugged me. There was no one around. People didn’t even know what was going on there. They were like, ‘What? There’s a hunger strike?'”

Meanwhile, 32 black members of the Missouri football team said on Saturday they would not practice or play until Wolfe was gone from his job. Their coach, Gary Pinkel, echoed his support.

On Monday, Wolfe stated, “My motivation in making this decision comes from love. I love MU and the state of Missouri, where I grew up.” He claimed “full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred,” adding, “This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation. Use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”

Butler concluded, “I was just so overwhelmed about what this truly means … that students who want to go to college and get an education can now have a fighting chance at having a fair education on a campus that is safe and inclusive. I wish you guys could be on campus to see the love that is permeating among the students, staff and faculty.”

The Mizzou football team would have lost $1 million if they had canceled the game against Brigham Young University at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday.

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