Reggie Lynch’s troubled basketball career at the University of Minnesota is officially over.
The Minnesota senior announced Thursday that he will not appeal the findings in a pair of sexual misconduct cases and instead will accept expulsion from the university.
Lynch’s announcement came two hours before he was scheduled to attend an appeals hearing on campus to fight his expulsion for separate incidents in April 2016 involving two different women. In early January, the University of Minnesota’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action found Lynch responsible in both cases, leading the school to suspend him pending the results of his appeal.
Lynch said during a news conference at his attorney’s office on Thursday that he maintains his innocence even though he is dropping his appeal. He said he will not fight expulsion because he does not think he can receive a fair hearing
“In today’s climate people automatically assume you’re guilty,” Lynch told reporters in Minneapolis.
“My friends, family and anyone who knows me knows the truth; I have never and would never commit any of the acts I am being accused of,” Lynch said. “As the son of an amazing mother, I respect all women. I have become a victim of false allegations, and it deeply saddens me to what that can do to someone’s life.”
Minnesota has received intense scrutiny for its decision to allow Lynch to play for the first half of this season while he was under investigation for multiple sexual assaults. In all, Lynch has faced sexual assault allegations three times, all stemming from alleged incidents that took place within weeks of one another in April or May 2016.
In May 2016, Lynch was arrested after a female student accused him of sexual assault. Prosecutors announced that Lynch wouldn’t be charged in the case and he served a brief suspension from the Minnesota basketball team.
Lynch’s other two accusers did not come forward until later. In October, university officials were notified of the other two separate sexual assault allegations against Lynch, both stemming from incidents in April 2016.
When asked last month why Lynch had been allowed to play despite the accusations against him, both Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino and athletic director Mark Coyle cited university guidelines guaranteeing students “due process” when accused of a crime.
Said Pitino, “When certain things like this happen, you know big things, you go to your boss, you discuss it and you go with the policies that are in place.”
Said Coyle, “People should trust the procedures we have in place. We have procedures that have been reviewed by outside agencies. We have procedures people have focused on, worked on and followed. Those procedures include providing due process for everybody involved.”
Lynch was an important piece of a Minnesota team that began the season with aspirations of challenging Michigan State and Purdue for the Big Ten title. The nation’s third-leading shot blocker averaged 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.1 blocks before his suspension and once again served as the backbone of the Golden Gopher defense.
Without Lynch and injured forward Amir Coffey, a promising Minnesota basketball season has nosedived. The Gophers are 3-12 in the Big Ten and have won only one game in Lynch’s absence.
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