The resignations of key University of Missouri officials underscore the power of protest on college campuses. But they also highlight the leverage student-athletes hold over social issues in the increasingly influential world of college athletics.
Tim Wolfe, the University of Missouri system's embattled president, stepped down Monday amid student claims that the university failed to address racial tension and inequality during his tenure. R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of Missouri's flagship Columbia campus, also announced he would leave the post at the end of the year.
Tensions at the university increased after a swastika was drawn in feces on a dormitory wall last month. Graduate student Jonathan Butler recently went on a hunger strike that he said would end when Wolfe stepped down. This weekend, amid a string of student demonstrations, at least 30 black Missouri football players said they would not participate in team activities until Wolfe resigned.
The players' threat likely contributed to Wolfe's resignation, as a strike could have caused millions of dollars in losses to Missouri's athletics program, experts said. And as college sports grow increasingly lucrative, more student-athletes are likely to use their political clout on campus.