The Slatest

Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel, Battling Cancer, to Retire After Season

Gary Pinkel
Mixssouri coach Gary Pinkel (right) embraces Alabama coach Nick Saban after the 2014 SEC championship game, won by Alabama. Pinkel is stepping down after the season for health reasons.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, who supported the boycott by his players that helped prompt the resignation of university president Timothy M. Wolfe, announced Friday that he would resign at the of the season because of health concerns.

Back in May, Pinkel was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma but continued coaching. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, Pinkel decided in late October after a doctor’s visit that he would be done after the season.

“I still feel good physically, but I decided that I want to focus on enjoying my remaining years with my family and friends, and also have proper time to battle the disease and give full attention to that.”

Pinkel joined Missouri in 2001 and leaves as the winningest coach in school history. The Tigers’ best season during his tenure came in 2007, where they were ranked No. 1 in the AP poll before losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.

Given the timing of his departure, Pinkel will no doubt be equally remembered for supporting his players after they announced that they were on strike from all football-related activities on Nov. 7. (He did later distance himself from the larger protest movement on campus.)

Missouri is only 4-5 this season, but the Tigers have fared well even since moving to the ultra-competitive SEC for the 2012 season. They won the SEC East in 2013 and 2014, and finished the 2013 season ranked fifth in the nation.

Pinkel, who played college football at Kent State with Alabama coach Nick Saban and NFL Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, will retire with at least 190 victories depending on how the Tigers finish the season