“The past few days have been extraordinary circumstances for many reasons,” Mizzou Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades said during his opening statements as he and Gary Pinkel met with media, one day after vowing support for the football players who were ready to boycott over the handling of racial issues at the University of Missouri.
Their comments also came hours after president Tim Wolfe resigned from his position.
Both Pinkel and Rhoades said the decision to support to players had nothing to do with someone losing their job, but ultimately for the health and well-being of a student. That student was Jonathan Butler who went on a seven-day hunger strike.
“They (the players) decided to be leaders in this issue…to save a life of a fellow student,” said Rhoades. “Its important to know during those discussions, there was never any talk about anybody losing their job.”
The biggest appearance of contradiction between what Rhoades and Pinkel stated about the concern of saving another student and what the players originally voiced their concerns over, which was non participation until Wolfe was removed voluntarily or involuntarily, was challenged for several minutes by the media.
It raised questions with me as early as Sunday evening. I commented on that very topic with this earlier video.
Pinkel said he was made aware by the players that they wanted to get more involved with the campus. Pinkel said on Saturday night, he got a phone call from the players who were very concerned about the health of Butler. Pinkel said when the players talked about their intentions they had tears in their eyes. It was an emotional topic.
“I didn’t look at consequences…it was about helping my players and supporting my players. I did the right thing and I would do it again,” said Pinkel.
There was some skepticism surrounding the players not being in attendance of the normal media day, after several of them stated on Sunday morning, they looked forward to sharing their thoughts at a different time and looked forward to Monday. Pinkel said that the players who were apart of this from the beginning, decided it was best that they or other players not speak to the media at this time. Pinkel said they came to that conclusion on their own and were not swayed by the coaching staff or administration.
Rhoades and Pinkel admitted that boycotting a football game was not the best way to deal with a controversial issue. Rhoades, who has been in school administration for 18-years, and Pinkel, in coaching for 30-years, have never been dealt with an issue like this.
While there was no playbook or script, they handled the situation in a way they felt was the best. While publicly there is no concern that in the future, players will use boycotts of games to get their point across, they understand that is a concern.
“Are there other solutions? Sometimes extraordinary circumstance require extraordinary measures. Are we going to solve every issue this way? No,” state Rhoades. “Certainly in our athletics departments we are going to make sure that we bring other solutions as we face other problems.”