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University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigns after protests over campus racism

Tim Wolfe, who just resigned as University of Missouri president, in April 2014.
Tim Wolfe, who just resigned as University of Missouri president, in April 2014.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday morning, a week after a graduate student began a hunger strike demanding he step down, and two days after black players on the football team, backed by their coaches and teammates, said they would not play until Wolfe left.

The university has been shaken by a string of racially charged incidents, from an epithet yelled at the student body president in September to a swastika smeared in feces on the wall of a bathroom in late October.

Wolfe became the focus of students' anger after his car bumped a protestor, part of a group calling itself Concerned Student 1950, on the homecoming parade route on October 10.

Jonathan Butler, the graduate student who was hit, began a hunger strike November 2, saying he would continue until Wolfe — who oversees the university system's four campuses as well as its medical center, research and technology parks, and other functions — stepped down.

On Saturday, 32 black players on the football team said they would not play or participate in football-related activities until Wolfe stepped down. The team's coach, Gary Pinkel, later tweeted a message of solidarity with a photo of the entire team.

In an emotional statement Monday morning, Wolfe said he hoped his resignation would help the university move forward and heal. "This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about," he said, pleading with the university to "stop yelling at each other and start listening … quit intimidating each other."

"Let’s focus on changing what we can change today," he said. "My resignation comes out of love, not hate."