Feb 18, 2016 03:10 PM EST
Missouri Lawmakers Blame MU Turmoil on Gary Pinkel
The University of Missouri seemingly tumbled into turmoil when its football team boycotted all its games and practices to protest racism on campus, and a few state lawmakers are pinning the blame squarely on former football coach Gary Pinkel.
According to The Columbia Daily Tribune, Sen. Paul Wieland (R-Imperial) told MU interim chancellor Hank Foley he considered filing a complaint over Pinkel's actions. Wieland took particular exception with MU's decision to give him a new job in the athletics department following his retirement from the football program.
Ahead of the BYU game, the Tigers' black players said they would boycott official team activities as long as graduate student Jonathan Butler remained on hunger strike. Butler was protesting Wolfe's perceived indifference to racist activity on campus, and a day later Pinkel announced his entire team would join the demonstration. Wolfe resigned the next day.
Pinkel maintained he did what he did because it was what his players wanted, and that they were concerned for Butler's health. Regardless, from that day on related demonstrations and events on the school's campus were headline news for several days.
"My constituents were kind of concerned that in their minds he had held the university hostage and as a reward the university gave him a contract for a million dollars over three years," Wieland told Foley, according to The Tribune.
Pinkel stepped down shortly after Wolfe's resignation after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In January, MU announced its Board of Curators approved a role for him in which he would help raise money and engage fans. His new salary will be a bout a quarter of his $4 million coaching salary, Yahoo Sports noted.
While Foley has stood by Pinkel, he indicated the school is taking measures to make sure another boycott would not occur.
"I feel very confident that the situation that developed last fall won't happen again, and if it does there will be a very different response," Foley said. "I wouldn't want to go into specifics of hypothetically what we might do or not do. But it just can't happen again the way it happened."
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