Minnesota Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker quit the football team through a scathing 4,000-plus-word rant on his blog against coach Jerry Kill.
Barker, Minnesota’s leading receiver in catches and yards despite missing the last three games due to injury, told his Twitter followers of his decision Sunday.
“Well, its official. I am done playing football for the University of Minnesota and I will be looking to transfer next season for my final yr,” the junior wide receiver posted to his Twitter account.
In another post, Barker directed fans to his Tumblr, where he posted a 4,100-word letter to notify Kill why he wanted out of Minnesota.
Barker repeatedly referred to the Minnesota coach as a “manipulator” throughout his rant.
“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,” Barker wrote.
The Golden Gophers still have one more game to play in the regular season followed by a bowl game.
Barker said his motivation for quitting stemmed from Kill telling him he would not play next year, and the wide receiver would not be receiving a scholarship from Minnesota.
The junior also claimed Kill did not think he was trying hard enough to get back on the field.
“Well, Jerry Kill, this is 2012, not 1974 in small town Kansas, I do have the right to have a say in my own body and how it is being treated. There is nothing more important to me than playing this game I love. I want nothing more than to be healthy and out there on the field with my team,” he wrote. “However frustrated you were isn’t 1/1000 the pain I feel from the reality that I will never get to play Michigan at home, avenge the dropped balls @ illinois from my freshman year, or play Nebraska @ Nebraska.”
Minnesota’s athletic department confirmed Kill received an email from Barker containing the letter.
"Coach Kill received an email from A.J. Barker today notifying the coach that he has quit the team," athletic director Norwood Teague said in a statement sent to Fox Sports North. "Coach Kill tried reaching out to A.J. after receiving the email, but was unable to connect with him. We understand A.J.'s frustration with his injury, and we regret that he has chosen to leave the team on these terms. Our concern first and foremost is student athletes and we wish A.J. well."
Barker said he originally had no intention of publicly releasing his rant, and said he was surprised at the amount of support he’s received from his Twitter followers.
“I certainly didn't expect to release this and have unconditional support haha,” he tweeted Sunday night. “Here are my priorities in the decision. 1) Told I wasn't going to play here anymore, and 2) wouldn't receive a scholarship next year.”