Several University of Texas Longhorns players geared up to boycott the team’s season finale against TCU after rumors leaked regarding the university’s plan to fire head coach Charlie Strong, according to several reports.
The rumors, picked up by the Austin American-Statesman, reported that the decision to put Strong on the chopping block came after three lackluster seasons, and especially after the 24-21 overtime loss to Kansas on November 19.
Almost immediately some players began tweeting out their support of the coach:
@c_blu42 when you're 16-20 at Texas you're not a great coach. Coaching is about wins and losses not personality.
— Jake (@Dr_Archie10) November 21, 2016
Letting this man go is equivalent to losing a father.he has done wonders for all of the players on the team and we want him to continue that pic.twitter.com/n90csrPa6n
— Poona Ford (@PoonaF_95) November 21, 2016
— Patrick Vahe (@PatrickVahe) November 21, 2016
Then the rumor mill spun up to the effect that many of these players would boycott the final game over the alleged impending firing.
“Some of the team is threatening to boycott the TCU game,” a source said. “Older players are trying to settle things down.”
But in the end, cooler heads prevailed and apparently the coach himself had the final say on the matter.
Texas WR Jacorey Warrick says talk of boycott "was real but we're not going to boycott. Coach Strong was not going to let us."
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) November 21, 2016
“Yeah, it was real, but we’re not going to boycott,” Texas senior receiver Jacorey Warrick said according to the Statesman. “We’re going to play. That was just people angry about expressing their thoughts. Coach Strong was not going to let us boycott that game”
“Everybody’s emotional about it,” offensive tackle Connor Williams said. “As a point, we’re not just playing for Coach Strong. We’re playing for the university as a whole and Longhorn Nation.”
Sports Illustrated noted, “Strong is 16–20 in his three seasons at Texas and if fired would be owed $10 million via buyout.”
Should the boycott meant to bully school officials over Strong’s firing have been pulled off, though, it would have only become part of a growing trend of students threatening school administrations over decisions rightfully in the purview of school officials. Last year, players for the University of Missouri announced a boycott of games unless president Tim Wolfe resigned or was fired over claims he didn’t do enough to stop “racism” on campus. Only two days later Wolfe did, indeed, resign. Student protesters also forced the resignation of Mary Spellman, dean of students at Claremont McKenna College, also over claims of supposed racism in her administrative duties.
Such threats may become the new normal in college sports unless something occurs to remind students and administrators where everyone’s responsibilities lie.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.