Nine Minnesota players sue university

Head coach Tracy Claeys was fired by Minnesota, in part because of his support of players accused of sexual assault.Photo: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports (File photo)

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Nine of 10 Minnesota football players who were suspended in 2016 following a sexual assault investigation are seeking $45 million in damages from the university in a gender and racial discrimination federal lawsuit that was filed on Friday.

ESPN reported that the lawsuit claims "racial and gender discrimination; intentional, willful, and malicious misconduct; and deliberate indifference" by the university caused irreversible damage to nine of the 10 players who were suspended in 2016 following the alleged incident.

Five of the players eventually were cleared and reinstated to the Gophers roster, while the other five were either expelled or suspended. Three of the reinstated players -- Antoine Winfield Jr., Seth Green and Antonio Shenault -- still are playing for Minnesota.

"I don't know how you put a value on destroying someone's life," said attorney Dave Madgett, who represents the players. "Would these guys have earned $5 million in their lifetimes? I think that's a fair number. These guys aren't hirable at General Mills."

A woman accused multiple players of engaging in non-consensual sex with her at a party in 2016, but the players claimed the sex was consensual.

The 10 players were suspended, but their teammates threatened to boycott the rest of the 2016 season if the players weren't reinstated, and former head coach Tracy Claeys' support of the accused players through Twitter contributed to his postseason firing.

The university said it will contest the lawsuit.

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