Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker quits team after row with coachby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Golden Gophers leading receiver says he's quitting the football team after a dispute with the head coach over an ankle injury.
A.J. Barker posted a lengthy letter to his blog on Sunday, explaining why he was leaving the University of Minnesota football program. The junior wide receiver led the team with 30 catches for 577 yards and seven touchdowns.
He injured his ankle during a touchdown run against Purdue, and said he injured it again during warm ups before the game against Michigan two weeks ago. His letter said coach Jerry Kill berated him in public for not following the instructions of trainers and threatened to withhold a scholarship.
The St. Paul native is a walk-on player, who hasn't yet won a football scholarship.
"Now, in honor of my family and myself I'm done with you for good. 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," he said in his online post. "It kills me that I have to do this before the season's over, but this is the only way I can protect myself against the manipulation and abuse I'd have to endure from you the rest of this season."
The U's athletic director, Norwood Teague, issued a statement expressing the team's regret that Barker was leaving.
It's the second high-profile controversy for Gopher football this season. In October, the team paid $800,000 to buy out a pair of non-conference games against North Carolina, in favor of a likely weaker opponent.