MU athletics addresses football players' role in Wolfe resignation
COLUMBIA - MU athletic director Mack Rhoades and head football coach Gary Pinkel addressed the media regarding the resignation of former UM System President Tim Wolfe and the involvement of MU football players and the athletic department in the situation.
"There's no playbook, no script for what all of us had been dealing with," Rhoades said. "A young man's life was at stake and that was real for our student athletes."
Pinkel said, "I've been a head coach for 25 years. This is not Football 101."
Rhoades and Pinkel commented publicly for the first time since the MU football team decided to suspend all football-related activities until Wolfe resigned and MU graduate student and activist Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike. Both said players felt strongly about the decision and they supported it.
"We met with them, we listened to them, we heard from our student athletes," Rhoades said. "We supported them."
Pinkel said, "I support my players. With something like this, football is secondary."
Pinkel admits he did not know where the boycott was heading, whether or not, as the days went on, chances of playing Saturday would change— Nick Hehemann (@NickHehemann) November 9, 2015
Pinkel said players talked to him Saturday night with concerns about Butler's health. Pinkel said players "had tears in their eyes" when discussing the situation.
Rhoades said he can't speculate how big of an impact the football team had on Wolfe's resignation, but said he understood the magnitude of the decision.
"I understand that you all would not be here today if our student athletes didn't get involved," Rhoades said.
Pinkel said he didn't think about the consequences when supporting his players. Rhoades said there were financial ramifications of not playing the game, but that wasn't focused on.
In reference to the game this Saturday, Pinkel says he didn't think about the consequences in supporting his players' decision to protest— Nick Hehemann (@NickHehemann) November 9, 2015
According to several national media sources, not all players were happy with the decision to boycott the game if Wolfe was still in office. Pinkel said he knew not everyone would be in support of the decision.
"Certainly there were some players that just went along with it," Pinkel said. "I'm sure that some players said, 'I don't know if I really agree with missing a game for this'."
Rhoades said he understands the issues still surrounding the MU campus and athletic department.
"We have issues on campus, we have issues in our athletic department and we need to face those head on," Rhoades said. "Our hope is that this will be a learning opportunity for all of us."
Pinkel said the team would have a meeting Monday night and resume normal activities Tuesday. Rhoades said he doesn't think this is the right way to solve issues in the future, but this wasn't a normal situation.
"Moving forward, we certainly cannot believe that this is the ideal way to solve extraordinary issues," Rhoades said. "Sometimes extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures."