Mizzou head football coach Gary Pinkel will retire at the end of this season.
According to a statement from the University’s Athletics Department this afternoon, Pinkel’s decision is "health-based." Pinkel, the winningest coach in Mizzou history, was diagnosed with lymphoma in May, but was able to continue his coaching duties as he was being treated.
Pinkel said he decided on Oct. 27 after a recent health exam that this would be his final season so he could spend time with family and “have proper time to battle the disease and give full attention to that." He told athletics director Mack Rhoades of his decision on Oct. 28, according to the news release.
The dates are significant, indicating that Pinkel decided to leave before two other high-profile changes this past week. UM’s system president Tim Wolfe resigned and R. Bowen Loftin announced he would step down as chancellor of the Columbia campus amid racial tensions and other concerns from students and faculty.
The news release makes no mention of the other resignations. Pinkel's football team did threaten to boycott games over the racial issues. He expressed support for his players but later clarified that he was not necessarily supporting the protesters.
In the statement, Rhoades said Pinkel may take on another role associated with the school’s athletics program after ending his coaching duties.
The Board of Curators' chair Donald Cupps put out the following statement on Friday afternoon:
I was surprised and saddened when I received the news of Gary Pinkel’s resignation, especially as he battles for his health. I learned of Gary’s health condition and his decision to resign Tuesday evening. Due to the nature of the conversation, the Board wished to respect Gary’s wishes and did not divulge this information, in order to allow him to tell his team and staff of the news before the announcement was made.
MU’s football team has earned tremendous accolades and victories under Gary’s leadership. The Board asks that you keep Gary and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
New interim president of the UM system, Michael Middleton released this statement:
Coach Pinkel has worked tirelessly to elevate the prominence of the MU football program and in the process was an extraordinary role model to the student athletes he coached and to those around him. We commend him on his years of service and for the winning football program he built that elevated the university with national recognition. His commitment to his players and the University of Missouri will be recalled for generations to come. Just as he has always supported his players, the University of Missouri community stands by him.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Pinkel and his family.
You can read the full news release from the MU Athletics Department here.