MU athletic director on Pinkel: Different situations warrant different punishments
Thursday, November 17, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel has been suspended for one week without pay, and could lose more than $300,000 of total compensation following his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated Wednesday night in Columbia.
Pinkel was pulled over by a Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy late Wednesday night and arrested. He posted $500 bail and was released.
The sheriff’s department said the incident is Pinkel’s first offense. The prosecutor’s office has up to one year to file charges. Since the case is part of an active investigation, the sheriff’s department declined to release additional information, including any preliminary test results of the coach’s blood-alcohol content.
“There’s no question we are extremely disappointed in Gary’s lack of judgement,” Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said.
Pinkel will not coach the Tigers in Saturday’s home finale against Texas Tech, and is not allowed to partake in any football duties until next Thursday afternoon.
Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will coach the Tigers on Saturday.
Pinkel issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
“As I said previously, I deeply regret the negative attention this has brought to the University of Missouri, and I offer my sincere apology to everyone associated with this institution,” he said.
Pinkel faces penalties that total $306,536 of his salary (that number would be less if Missouri does not make a bowl). Besides the week suspension without pay, he will donate, at his request, an additional week’s pay to the MU Wellness Resource Program. The Wellness Resource Program is dedicated to creating an environment that supports smart decision-making with topics such as alcohol.
He also faces a one-year salary freeze and will forfeit several bonuses, including a $75,000 bowl bonus and a $100,000 academic-social responsibility bonus. He must complete 50 hours of community service and will write a letter to fans addressing the situation in “the not-too distant future.”
Alden said he learned of the arrest at 6:45 a.m. Thursday morning after he received a voicemail from Pinkel. Alden said from the information he gathered, the process was handled in a respectable fashion.
While Alden noted his disappointment with Pinkel’s actions, he was quick to point out this has been the first issue with Pinkel in his 11 years as Missouri’s coach.
“He’s built something pretty special here at Mizzou over the course of the last 11 years, and we do not want one instance, certainly, to be able to tear down what has taken place over the course of those 11 years,” Alden said. “However, this absolutely goes against everything that we stand for.”
This is not the first alcohol-related problem with the Missouri football team during Pinkel’s tenure. During the summer of 2010, assistant coach Bruce Walker was arrested in the parking lot of the Missouri Athletic Training Complex on suspicion of DWI.
Later that summer, Missouri players Beau Brinkley and Will Ebner were arrested for DWI only a few days apart from one another. Walker did not face a suspension. Ebner and Brinkley were each suspended two games.
Because of the previous history, questions were raised about whether Pinkel should have faced a longer suspension.
Alden said while the previous issues with alcohol entered his mind, different situations warrant different punishments.
“The issues we dealt with (last year) are different than this issue that we’re talking about,” Alden said. “Our ability to be able to take a look at this in a comprehensive fashion gave us a little bit more latitude,” Pinkel said.
Alden said he met with Pinkel three times Thursday and also addressed the team Thursday.
“I do think our kids overall recognize the severity of these types of issues,” Alden said.
Alden declined to comment when asked how much input Pinkel has on the suspension and loss of compensation.
Alden said the decision for the penalties rested with him, although he added he discussed his thoughts with Pinkel.
Pinkel did not address the media. Alden said he made the decision not to have Pinkel talk with reporters.