University of Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel announced his resignation because of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis.
Pinkel’s departure follows this season.
“I made the decision in May, after visiting with my family, that I wanted to keep coaching, as long as I felt good and had the energy I needed,” Pinkel explained. “I felt great going into the season, but also knew that I would need to re-assess things at some point, and I set our bye week as the time when I would take stock of the future. After we played Vanderbilt (Oct. 24), I had a scheduled PET scan on Oct. 26th for reassessment, and then visited with my family and came to the decision on October 27th that this would be my last year coaching. I still feel good physically, but I decided that I want to focus on enjoying my remaining years with my family and friends, and also have proper time to battle the disease and give full attention to that.”
The announcement follows the most bizarre week in the history of Missouri Tigers football. Last weekend, more than 30 African-American players announced a boycott of team activities until the school’s president departed because of alleged mishandling of several racially-charged incidents. Pinkel stood by the decision of his protesting players. On Monday, largely because of the pressure wielded by the player strike, the University of Missouri system president, Tim Wolfe, announced his resignation. The school’s chancellor soon followed suit with an announcement that he too would soon leave his post. Facing a $1 million contractual penalty, as well as lost gate receipts and TV money, should they miss their game with BYU on Saturday, the Tigers resumed practices in preparation for the contest following the changes in administration.
The 4-5 Tigers, wearing special all-white uniforms for the occasion, take on the 7-2 BYU Cougars at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday at 6:30. p.m. Central time in a game already infused with off-field drama. Pinkel’s health situation—the coach says “I’m not doing poorly” and describes his situation as “manageable”—adds yet another emotional layer to the contest. Pinkel promises to coach out the season, and should his players rally rather than reel from the many off-field issues in their final three regular season games the team possesses a shot at a bowl-game invitation.
A perennial loser upon his arrival in Columbia, the Tigers became consistent winners under Pinkel. In 15 seasons at the helm, Pinkel compiled a 117-71 record.