University of Minnesota top wide receiver A.J. Barker has decided to leave the Gophers football program and made known his reasons via Twitter before posting his entire email to head coach Jerry Kill on the internet.
Barker's reasons for leaving the Gophers include the Kill's failure to award him a scholarship and alleged manipulation and abuse. His email calls Kill a "master manipulator" and lists 16 specific forms of manipulation he feels the coach used.
"It's over," Barker wrote. "Thank you for that last bit of motivation I needed to put myself over the top. Thank you for showing me your true colors; that you will stop at nothing to prove you have control over me...Now, in honor of my family and myself I'm done with you for good...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."
Read A.J. Barker's full email to Jerry Kill at http://ajbarker82.tumblr.com/
"As a master manipulator, you misunderstood one thing about me: I have an extremely strong mind and you never had the power to break me. Your former player, AJ Barker."
At a news conference Monday, Kill said he confronted Barker at practice Thursday over his conduct toward a team trainer. He denied mistreating Barker, or any other Gophers, and said he doesn't treat his players "any differently than I treat my two daughters."
Barker apologized to his teammates, but hopes his decision and actions will motivate other players to stand up to their superiors. He says he posted the full email online so any and all critics could get his full side of the story.
"I wanted a fair trial by the media," Barker told FOX 9 Sports in a phone conversation. "There's going to be a lot of people that hate what I did and strongly oppose it. But at the same time there's going to be a lot of people who support it, and those are the people I'm hoping to really reach – the ones who could use it in a situation that maybe it is even harder for them or even worse. It's football at the end of the day."
Under NCAA rules, since Barker wasn't a scholarship athlete he can transfer to another Division I program and play next season without sitting out a transfer season.
Kill said he thinks Barker will come to regret the way he left the team.