Goldy Gopher's antics result in apology

Updated: October 22, 2009, 4:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota is apologizing after its Goldy Gopher mascot poked fun at a Penn State football player who was praying before last week's game.

A video made before Saturday's game at State College, Pa., shows Penn State defensive end Jerome Hayes kneeling in prayer in the end zone.

Goldy Gopher

Goldy

Goldy Gopher kneels in front of Hayes, according to the video posted on YouTube. When Hayes stands up, so does Goldy. The mascot tries to make some contact, but Hayes ignores him and trots back to the bench.

"When I got up, I couldn't hear what he said, and he tried to shake my hand," Hayes said of the incident, according to The Morning Call of Allentown. "I wasn't trying to have any part of that."

According to the report, Hayes said he has seen video of the moment, and that he's not bothered by it -- although teammates have told him "the Gopher got the best of me."

Minnesota spokesman Dan Wolter says the stunt was "plainly a mistake" and the mascot didn't intend to offend anyone or trivialize religion.

"On behalf of Goldy and the University of Minnesota, I want to apologize to the Penn State player involved and anyone else who may have taken offense from this incident," Wolter said in a statement. "We have reiterated to Goldy the importance of exercising appropriate religious sensitivity in the future."

Penn State athletics spokesman Brian Siegrist had no comment Thursday. Penn State won the game 20-0.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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