Sunday, November 15, 2015

highest paid public employee orchestrated university’s entry into the wealthiest and most powerful football conference


NYTimes |  Mr. Pinkel announced Friday that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, and would resign after the season. More than 20 of his former Missouri players are in the N.F.L., and some speak of him as almost a father figure. “He’s backed us in all situations,” said Shane Ray, a linebacker now with the Denver Broncos.

He also is the highest-paid public employee in Missouri; a shrewd negotiator, he receives an annual salary of more than $4 million. He helped orchestrate the university’s entry in 2012 into the Southeastern Conference, the most powerful and wealthiest college football conference in the nation.

Refusing to stand by his players would have been unwise.

“He didn’t have any choice,” said Lorenzo Williams, a former defensive tackle and team captain and a great admirer of Mr. Pinkel’s. “If black players aren’t comfortable here, he’s basically standing against them. How many black recruits is he going to attract?”

Mr. Pinkel’s seeming endorsement of the protests played less well with some alumni and supporters. Had the Tigers canceled their game Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., the university would have had to pay $1 million to its opponent, Brigham Young.

By early evening Friday, a couple of hours after the coach announced his coming resignation, Vice Chancellor Thomas S. Hiles sent out an email in hopes of mollifying alumni.

“We have heard from many of you, across the spectrum of viewpoints,” he said. “We want to acknowledge your concerns, expressions of support and anger.”

There is the never incidental question of the team’s won-loss record. After a string of successful seasons, and 10 bowl games in 14 years, the Tigers were 4-5 entering the Brigham Young game.

Mr. Pinkel did not help himself last week by conveying a visible discomfort with his king-toppling of the university president. On a sports-radio show last week, he backpedaled.

Why did he send out the tweet on Sunday expressing solidarity not just with the players but with the protesting student group?

That, he replied, was a mistake.

“I have somebody who tweets for me a lot to get info out, and that person should not have put that hashtag on,” he said.

What’s your view on the resignation of the president and chancellor?

“That is something the university systems did,” he said. “That was secondary to me supporting my players.”

Did these administrators become collateral damage?

“You can describe it any way you want to do it.”