COLUMBIA — Missouri's reaction to NCAA sanctions the day after three years of probation, a one-year postseason ban for football, softball and baseball as well as fines and recruiting restrictions were announced was shock and dismay, with a promise to fight and appeal the penalties.
Friday, the fight began in earnest, and from the administration to the student body to the fan base, taking on the NCAA appears to have united Missouri in a way it has not been since joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012.
Following a statement Thursday criticizing the decision and vowing to appeal from athletic director Jim Sterk, chancellor Alexander Cartwright and football coach Barry Odom voiced support for the fight. Missouri baseball coach Steve Bieser and softball coach Larissa Anderson put out similar statements Friday backing up Sterk.
Odom was defiant in a Friday press conference, and the football team and coaching staff, already armed with a favorable 2019 schedule, a talented group of returners and Odom's best-ever recruiting class, now has added motivation to win as many games as possible and dare the NCAA to intervene in the program's postseason plans.
"The appeal, we're going on attack," Odom said. "Bring it on."
Friday's intensified comments showed Missouri intends to put as much public pressure as possible on the NCAA, through official non-competitive channels as well as on-field success, in an attempt to get the governing body to back down.
Jon Sundvold, former Missouri and NBA basketball player and current chair of the University Board of Curators, went further publicly than anyone, explicitly questioning the NCAA's legitimacy.
"The NCAA Committee on Infractions made a mistake yesterday," he said in a statement. "We expect leadership from institutions to admit when they make a mistake, correct that mistake and move forward. The NCAA should do the same. As David Roberts, NCAA Committee on Infractions panel chief officer, said, 'Missouri did the right thing.' I now expect the NCAA to do the right thing.
"If it doesn't, a dangerous precedent has been set. When an individual acts independently of their employer, violates rules, commits extortion and shops her accusations to the highest bidder, why would that institution be punished unjustly after doing the right thing?
"Inconsistent actions by the NCAA continue to erode its credibility. If it doesn't admit and correct this unprecedented fault, many Power Five schools, like Missouri, will question the need for the NCAA as a governing body.
"As our appeal moves forward, I appreciate the support of the SEC and Commissioner Greg Sankey. When Mizzou wins the SEC East next year, he should do the right thing and invite one of its good standing members to play in the SEC Championship game."
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has voiced his support for Missouri in its fight against the NCAA, as have elected officials including U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler and state Sen. Caleb Rowden.
Odom found out about the penalties around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, he said, and after filling in his coaching staff, who are out recruiting, he called a team meeting at 11 a.m. to inform the players. Odom kept the seniors after that meeting and met with them again that night.
The NCAA recommended waiving its 'year in residency' transfer restrictions for any Missouri senior that elected to transfer, and college programs began contacting players, particularly Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant, within minutes. Bryant has indicated he will stay with Missouri, but nothing is certain.
Odom was most notably upset about the recruiting restrictions and reduction in scholarships, which does at the margins punish future prospective student-athletes that would attend Missouri, since no current players on the football roster were among the 12 given aid by a tutor the NCAA and Missouri deemed violated the university's honor code, NCAA ethical conduct and academic extra benefit rules.
"I think that if the Committee on Infractions doesn't take a stand on this through the appeal, then it leaves a lot of gray area out there on how to handle the approach of doing everything you're supposed to do," Odom said.
"I look forward to whatever role I've got in the appeal process. I want to go knock it out of the park."