Mizzou Staff, Coaches Show Support for Michael Sam

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COLUMBIA - Members of the Missouri football team and the athletic department showed their support for former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam Monday. Sam made the announcement Sunday he is gay with the help of ESPN. Since the announcement, several players, students and officials from the University of Missouri have shown their support for Sam.

Although Michael Sam didn't come out publicly as being gay until Sunday, he revealed to his team he was gay in August. Craig Kuligowski, Sam's defensive line coach, was the Missouri football coach who was running the team building exercise where Sam revealed his sexual orientation.

"You get up there and you tell them about yourself and something they might not know about you. Mike got up there and said 'my name is Michael Sam, I play defensive end, I'm gay' and it was just that easy."

Following that event, Kuligowski made a call to head coach Gary Pinkel to tell him about what Sam had revealed. On Monday, Pinkel reflected back on that moment.

"I got a phone call from a coach who was in the group Michael was in and told me Michael had told the whole group he was gay," Pinkel explained.

"The next morning, Michael came into my office and talked to me. I gave a hug, told him I loved him and we talked about what he wanted to do. We told him ultimately it was his decision and for him to sleep on it. The next morning he said 'Coach, I don't want to be a distraction here. I wanna focus on winning football games. I want the team to have its best year and for me to have my best year.' So we decided to honor that."

Pat Ivey, associate athletic director of athletic performance discussed how much support Sam had from the team from the beginning.

"It was one of those things where the team knew that there's this trust now because when you have trust and loyalty with a team, they'll fight for each other. The team was prepared for him to come out. If he said he was going to come out when he told the team, the team was prepared to put on the armor and go to battle."

Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden said he fully supports Michael Sam and the decision he made.

"We're so proud of him. He's such a fine young man and certainly the way he represents Mizzou is outstanding. This is an opportunity for all of us to be respectful of one another, celebrate our differences and for us to recognize we are all Tigers and all part of the same family," Alden said.