Gophers’ Lynch expelled after dropping appeals
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota center Reggie Lynch announced Thursday he will drop his appeals in a pair of sexual misconduct rulings that have sidelined him for the last month and accept an expulsion from the university.
Lynch said during a news conference that he maintains his innocence after a school panel ruled he was “responsible” in a pair of sexual assault cases from alleged incidents in April 2016.
He said he decided to drop the appeals because he does not feel like he will receive a fair hearing through the university, so he’ll leave the Gophers, turn pro and attempt to resume his basketball career.
Lynch had initially decided to appeal the rulings to the school’s Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee. He was scheduled to appear at hearings in both cases Thursday and Monday, respectively, before his announcement.
“This is not the right arena to try to clear your name in,” Ryan Pacyga, Lynch’s lawyer, told ESPN.
In October, university officials were notified of two separate sexual assault allegations, both stemming from incidents in April 2016, that had been made against Lynch, a former Big Ten defensive player of the year.
Lynch was found “responsible” in the two cases by the school’s office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which recommended expulsion. The EOAA reviewed text messages and interviewed multiple witnesses before making its rulings against Lynch, according to documents in the cases.
Through his lawyer, Lynch quickly announced he would appeal both rulings.
In all, Lynch has faced sexual assault allegations three times — all within weeks of one another from April 2016 to May 2016.
In a third case, Lynch was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in May 2016 and suspended by the team. He was reinstated, however, after local prosecutors decided against pressing charges. The office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action also decided against taking any action in that case.
But the two allegations from April 2016 triggered Lynch’s indefinite suspension in early January, three months after the alleged victims notified the university of their claims.
“Effective immediately, your University of Minnesota studentship will be ended with resultant loss of all student rights and privileges,” the letter about Lynch’s status from the office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action sent to both Lynch and the alleged victim in one of the April 2016 cases reads. “A disciplinary hold will be placed on your record. The hold will prevent you from registering at the University and from obtaining your records through routine channels.”
The university had initially recommended an on-campus ban through 2020 after Lynch was found “responsible” in the first of the two April 2016 cases.
Athletic director Mark Coyle announced in January that Lynch had been suspended but could still practice with the team pending the completion of the university’s judicial process. That was before the third allegation overall and second allegation from April 2016 against Lynch had been publicized.
“We didn’t see any red flags,” Richard Pitino told reporters about Lynch at the time when he was asked if he’d vetted the Illinois State transfer.
Pacyga said Lynch, who spoke briefly at the news conference Thursday, will consider his legal options. The announcement was Lynch’s way of standing up for himself, he said.
“He’s not going to go play ball in an arena when you don’t have fair rules on both sides,” Pacyga said.