Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel abruptly announced Friday he will resign at the end of the season for health reasons, adding a stunning turn to a week in which he kept his team united when players went on strike because of racial tensions on campus.
Pinkel, 63, said he received a diagnosis of lymphoma in May. He dismissed the idea that the week's events in Columbia, Mo., led to his decision.
"I made a decision in May, after visiting with my family, that I wanted to keep coaching as long as I felt good and had the energy I needed," Pinkel said in a statement. "I felt great going into the season, but also knew that I would need to re-assess things at some point, and I set our bye week as the time when I would take stock of the future."
The tumultuous week began when players tweeted they would boycott Saturday's game against Brigham Young unless the university system president resigned. Pinkel supported his players — even though it would have cost the school $1 million to cancel the game against BYU at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The boycott ended less than 48 hours after it started when President Tim Wolfe stepped down.
A statement from the school said Pinkel informed his staff and the team on Friday that this would be his last season. Pinkel and athletic director Mack Rhoades, who is in his first year at Missouri, are discussing a future role for Pinkel in Tigers athletics.
Pinkel received multiple treatments in May and June for a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the statement said. Doctors said the treatments would not interfere with his coaching duties.
"I want to make very clear that I'm not doing poorly, and that this is a manageable disease, but it's one that will never go away," Pinkel said. "I don't know how many years I have left, but I want to turn my focus to life outside the daily grind of football."
Pinkel, a native of Akron, Ohio, is the winningest coach in school history with a 117-71 record over 15 seasons. His team has won the past two SEC East titles but is out of contention this year. The Tigers have had five 10-win seasons under Pinkel and won a division title in in five of the past eight seasons. Missouri's last 10-win season before Pinkel was in 1960.
The Tigers (4-5) play BYU on Saturday and have two more games after that to get to six wins and become bowl-eligible.
Pinkel said he had a PET scan on Oct. 26, met with his family and decided the next day that this season would be his last.
"It's tough emotionally knowing that his fight with cancer is bringing his run to an end sooner than any of us thought," Rhoades said. "I want to commend Gary with how open he's been with me the whole time, from the first day he came to my office in May and told me about the diagnosis, all the way to now and when he met with me personally on October 28 to tell me he'd made up his mind."
Rison pulls MSU commitment
Wide receiver Hunter Rison, a four-star recruit and son of former Michigan State receiver Andre Rison, withdrew his commitment to attend Michigan State, saying he made his choice too early. Rison had been MSU's only commitment in the 2017 class.
Former Gators player acquitted
Florida cornerback J.C. Jackson was found not guilty Friday in Gainesville, Fla., on three felony counts of armed robbery. He also was acquitted of a felony burglary charge stemming from an April 18 incident in Gainesville.
Jackson said he plans to resume playing college football. But it's uncertain if it will be with the Gators.
"I would like to come back, but it's up to the coaches," Jackson told reporters outside the courtroom.
His attorney, Christopher Brown, said transferring to another Football Bowl Subdivision program might be an option. Jackson missed the 2014 season following shoulder surgery.