KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Protests against racist crimes on the campus of the University of Missouri in Fall 2015 aimed to create lasting change.
The school’s football team’s insertion into protests, including the threat of boycott for an upcoming game at Arrowhead Stadium, undoubtedly played a factor in the resignation of school chancellor Richard Bowen Loftin and UM system president Tim Wolfe.
“If they're not out there playing the games, nobody's out there making money,” said former tiger Lucas Vincent, who spent 2009-2013 with the program. “And when nobody's making money, that's when things get changed.”
Almost six years later, those closest reflect on what role student athletes played in influencing that change.
“It's really crazy seeing a university that I dedicated so much of my life to really become a pivotal point in the history of athletes being able to voice their opinions,” Vincent said.
A 41 Action News poll from 2015 showed over 80% of responders believed the football team’s boycott had the greatest impact in forcing out the school’s highest officials.
POLL: UM System president Tim Wolfe resigned because of...— 41 Action News (@41actionnews) November 9, 2015
“It’s about being impactful, not just with statements but with action within our community, and using our influence in a positive way,” current MU football coach Eli Drinkwitz said on the program’s commitment to fostering an inclusive campus.
The Tigers once again put their activism to work in 2020, following the death of George Floyd.
In the years since, college athletes have grown increasingly powerful when coming together as one. Most recently, asking the NCAA for uniformity and health protections amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Player solidarity is something that has a lot of power,” Vincent said. “When players really come together and say, ‘Hey, this is this is how it's gonna be.’ There's not a lot that can be done.”