Students, faculty and staff from the University of Missouri (UM) System showcased exhibits on various topics during Thursday’s UM System legislative day at the Statehouse in Jefferson City.

UM Board of Curators Chair Jon Sundvold of Columbia (June 2018 file photo courtesy of the UM System)

The event drew numerous Missouri state lawmakers from both parties, in both chambers. Mizzou football coach Barry Odom and Tiger women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton also attended.

The UM System has campuses in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis, with a total enrollment of about 73,000, according to its website.

The chair of the UM Board of Curators says the NCAA’s penalties against Mizzou are unfair. Former Mizzou basketball star Jon Sundvold spoke to Missourinet in the Capitol Rotunda, during the event.

“The reason a university has compliance is to find things that are wrong at times,” Sundvold says. “They (Mizzou) did, they corrected, they penalized, all the things you’re supposed to do the NCAA said you did it right, and then all of a sudden you get another penalty.”

Sundvold tells us Mizzou has good attorneys. He hopes the appeals process moves quickly but says he knows it won’t.

The NCAA found that a former Mizzou tutor violated ethics and academic conduct by providing extra benefits while working with 12 student-athletes.

The NCAA’s decision has been blasted by members of Missouri’s congressional delegation and by Missouri lawmakers in Jefferson City.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) wrote a letter on Tuesday to the NCAA, describing the punishment as “one that is harmful to the coaches, student-athletes and staff who had nothing to do with the actions of a sole individual.”

Blunt’s letter says the NCAA’s own report found that the violations were performed by a rogue tutor, and that Mizzou took immediate action to rectify the issue.

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, who represents Columbia on Capitol Hill, blasted the sanctions earlier this month during an interview with Missourinet. Hartzler, a Mizzou graduate, supports MU’s appeal and hopes the sanctions are overturned.

The penalties include a 2019 postseason ban for the football program.

Meantime, Sundvold is impressed with everything he saw in the Capitol Rotunda Thursday, especially the exhibits.

“We are the state university right, I mean we’re just not one of the schools. And when I travel the country, the pride and joy of most states is their state university,” says Sundvold.

Missouri lawmakers were able to see exhibits on projects involving the opioid crisis and STEM education. They also viewed exhibits on the UM System’s precision medicine initiatives. Lawmakers also learned how Mizzou assists communities with retaining their workforce.

Chairman Sundvold, who played nine NBA seasons and is a national television college basketball analyst, tells Missourinet the event demonstrates the value of the UM System’s four campuses to the state.

“Everybody understands what the success of our university means at each of the campuses, and what it means to in research, what it means to people around the state,” Sundvold says.

Also on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, and State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, announced the formation of a new bipartisan UM System caucus.

Senator Rowden, Representative Razer and UM System President Dr. Mun Choi briefed reporters at the Statehouse. There are more than 50 alumni of the UM System in the Missouri Legislature.


Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and UM Board of Curators Chair Jon Sundvold, which was recorded on February 21, 2019 in the Statehouse’s third floor Rotunda in Jefferson City: