Three days before the final home game of the football season, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department arrested football coach Gary Pinkel on Wednesday night on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
When the news broke early Thursday morning, attracting national media attention and trending on Twitter, students began to voice their opinions about Pinkel, now in his 11th year of coaching at MU.
Freshman Steven Benna said Pinkel’s DWI shouldn’t earn him a dismissal, but some repercussions are necessary.
“I don’t think he should be fired; I don’t think its that serious that you need to fire the man,” Benna said. “There needs to be some form of punishment, but I’m not sure what it should be.”
In August 2010, MU assistant football coach Bruce Walker faced charges for drinking with two players, according to a previous Maneater report. The players, Will Ebner and Beau Brinkley, both served two game suspensions.
Benna said now more than ever, coaches should be more careful about what they do in public.
“I think they’re being watched more closely,” Benna said. “They have to be more careful about what they do because (scandals) are happening more often.”
For the past decade, Pinkel has been the face of Tigers football on and off the field. Students like sophomore Kristine Ashley are worried how the incident reflects upon MU as a whole.
“(The DWI) doesn’t represent Mizzou in a good way,” Ashley said. “We all make bad choices but this still doesn’t represent us very well.”
Ashley said Pinkel doesn’t deserve any special treatment just because of his coaching position.
“He’s no different than anyone else,” Ashley said. “He should have to abide by the law. “
Earlier today, Pinkel released a statement in response to his arrest.
“First and foremost, I am very disappointed in myself for my lack of judgment in this instance,” Pinkel said in the statement. “Nobody should drink and drive, including me. My staff and I constantly reinforce with each of our players the importance of not putting yourself into a position such as this. I did not follow that here and for that, I sincerely apologize to the University of Missouri, to our administration, to the Board of Curators and to our fans.”
Senior Hunter Mense, an undergraduate assistant for the baseball team, said Pinkel’s role as an authority figure complicates the situation.
“I wouldn’t say fire him, but some sort of suspension (is necessary),” Mense said.
According to the MU Athletics Department, Pinkel has earned a 155-91-3 coaching record throughout his 20-year career. During his tenure, the Tigers have had seven straight bowl game appearances, the most consistent streak in school history.
Despite Pinkel’s success as a coach, Mense said Pinkel’s legacy at MU might forever be tarnished.
“It’s hard to change something like this,” Mense said. “People are going to make judgments based off of this one incident.”
In 2007, Pinkel won Co-Big 12 Coach of the Year honors and lead the Tigers to a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press college football poll for the first time in MU history.
Since news of the arrest broke, Athletic Director Mike Alden and Chancellor Brady Deaton have both publicly expressed their disappointment with Pinkel.
“It sucks to think about but it will be the thing a lot of people remember him for,” Mense said.