Advocacy Groups, Arrive Alive React to Pinkel's Arrest
COLUMBIA - The various reactions of Mid-Missouri advocacy groups to the Wednesday night arrest of Coach Gary Pinkel on suspicion of driving while intoxicated indicate the possible negative and positive consequences of his actions.
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is reconsidering Pinkel's involvement in its 'Arrive Alive' safe driving campaign. In an Arrive Alive commercial, Pinkel encourages safe driving, saying "It's your turn to be a Tiger. Drive sober. Buckle up and arrive alive." He also appears in a poster for the campaign, promoting motorcycle awareness.
Leanna Depue, director of MODOT's Highway Safety division which takes part in the Coalition, said Pinkel's actions are disheartening.
"It becomes difficult when you are trying to promote safety, if a person does have a high risk driving behavior, ticket, or even an arrest. So it does compromise his ability to share a safety message," she said.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, agree with Depue's concerns. KOMU spoke with an advocate from MADD who lost her ability to walk from a drunk driving crash. She says it is important for Coach Pinkel and MU to turn this situation into a positive one.
"From a victim's standpoint, the positive thing is that he did not kill or injure anyone on our Missouri highways and that from this standpoint he can at least now go forward and make positive decisions and make good choices."
Kim Dude, director of the MU Wellness Resource Center, said she is confident Coach Pinkel will use this experience as an opportunity to teach the lesson "that this can happen to anybody that drinks and drives." She added, "No matter how intelligent you are, how successful you are, it can still happen. So none of us are above this negative consequence."
"I am sure he is very remorseful and certainly regrets it happening and will do all he can to make sure it never happens again," said Dude.
Pinkel's statement on Thursday indicate those same feelings:
"Last night after practice, I met some friends for dinner. After dinner, I was stopped by a Boone County officer and received a citation for impaired driving. First and foremost, I am very disappointed in myself for my lack of judgment in this instance. Nobody should drink and drive, including me. My staff and I constantly reinforce with each of our players the importance of not putting yourself into a position such as this. I did not follow that here and for that, I sincerely apologize to the University of Missouri, to our administration, to the Board of Curators and to our fans. I have already met with our staff and communicated with our players and have apologized to them. I accept full responsibility for my actions and will abide by whatever course of action our leadership deems appropriate."
As part of Pinkel's punishment, one week of his salary will be donated to the Wellness Resource Center.