Minnesota coach Jerry Kill and his training staff have been accused of mistreatment by Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker, who suffered an ankle injury October 27 and quit the team.
Barker alleges that Kill confronted him at a recent practice and asked how he planned to tackle his rehab for his ankle injury. He also accuses the Gopher’s training staff of not immediately telling him that he had a high ankle sprain before attempting to return to the field Nov.5 against Michigan.
Barker was the leading receiver for the Gophers with 30 catches for 577 yards and seven touchdowns after walking on the team. He made his intentions known through Twitter.
“Well, its official. I am done playing football for the University of Minnesota and I will be looking to transfer next season for my final yr,” he wrote.
Following the message he added a link for his Twitter followers to read a lengthy message posted on Tumblr entitled: “My letter to Jerry Kill, why I quit.”
Barker wrote, “Thank you for showing me your true colors; that you will stop at nothing to prove you have control over me. … In light of that pathetic, manipulative display of rage and love you put on this past Thursday, I have come to the decision, with the guidance of my parents and my closest friends, that my time on this team has come to an end.”
Barker said it was a difficult decision, but he had to protect himself. Meanwhile, Kill is not the only coach facing accusations by Barker. Tight ends coach Rob Reeves allegedly called Barker a slur because Baker is an atheist.
The school is investing into both allegations and it issued a statement Sunday night.
“Coach Kill received an email from A.J. Barker today notifying the Coach that he has quit the team,” the statement said. “Coach Kill tried reaching out to A.J. after receiving the email, but was unable to connect with him. We understand A.J.’s frustration with his injury, and we regret that he has chosen to leave the team on these terms. Our concern first and foremost is student athletes and we wish A.J. well.”
Barker has one year of eligibility left and does not have to sit out wherever he chooses to transfer to continue to collegiate football career.