University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced he is stepping down today, amid mounting criticism over how the school's administration has handled a series of racial incidents on campus in recent months.
Tensions have been steadily building on campus since September, after a member of the Legion of Black Collegians, the black student association on campus, said fellow students yelled the N-word at him during a play rehearsal. In October, a swastika smeared in human feces was discovered on the bathroom wall of a residence hall.
The university administration downplayed the incidents, which only provoked more anger from students who felt that their concerns were being ignored.
Last Monday, a graduate student embarked on a hunger strike to call attention to the issue. Then on Saturday, 32 members of the school's football team said they would not play in Friday's game until Wolfe steps down.
The Legion of Black Collegians announced on Twitter that the black students on the football team would not participate in any more practices or games until Wolfe "resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experiences." The team's cornerback John Gibson said that the coaches and staff "are 100% behind us. Including the white ones," reported ESPN.
Hundreds of students involved in the movement, called Concerned Students 1950, have been marching on campus over the past week, reported local paper St. Louis Today. But it was the involvement of the football team that has added a significant degree of pressure on the administration, since athletics play an outsized role on campus. The football program has brought in about $30 million this year, according to the Wall Street Journal. If Friday's game is cancelled, the school will lose a significant amount of money from television contracts and the SEC, the lucrative collegiate athletic conference they are a member of.
Wolfe is the president of all four of University of Missouri's campuses, which serve 77,000 students.