Fans attend Pinkel\'s retirement speech to show support

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COLUMBIA - Fans gathered Monday at Mizzou Arena to support MU football coach Gary Pinkel as he gave an emotional speech about his retirement.

Pinkel announced Friday he will retire at the end of this season due to health reasons. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma earlier this year.

Pinkel choked up during part of the speech and some fans in the audience did as well.

Chuck Lundquist has been an MU football season ticket holder for 20 years and has been coming to Mizzou games for 30 years. He said he came today to show his support.

"The program has certainly improved a great deal under Pinkel," Lundquist said. I respect his standards and his approach to coaching. It just seems like the right thing to do to come and help honor him." 

Skip Wills, another fan in the audience, said he has had season tickets to Mizzou games since Pinkel became head coach. He said he feels he has been with Pinkel through the whole journey. 

"I just felt it was important to be here today," Wills said.

Some students were also in attendance of today's speech. Debonie Lewis said Pinkel has had a great impact on the program and the school.

"I just came to wish him well in his future endeavors and thank him for all the service he has done for this school and this program," Lewis said.

Another MU student, Landis George, said Pinkel will be missed.

"He's one of the best coaches not only in Mizzou history, but in the country," George said.

After the event, fans signed a picture of coach Pinkel to show support. Lundquist said he has a personal message for coach Pinkel.

"Thank you for all you've done for the people you have under your supervision and the student athletes and all you've done for us as football fans," Lundquist said. "It's been a good run."