Full Mizzou statements on Michael Sam’s historic revelation

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As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the sports world witnessed some significant history being played out Sunday evening.

Michael Sam, who ended his stellar Missouri career in 2013 as an All-American defensive end and co-leader in the SEC in sacks, announced to the world last night that he is in fact gay.  The public proclamation sets Sam up to become the first active, openly-gay player in the NFL, with the defensive lineman expected to be taken somewhere in the middle(ish) rounds of the upcoming draft.

While the news took the general public by surprise, it was far from that for the Mizzou football program.  During summer camp last August, Sam revealed to his teammates and coaches that he is a homosexual.  In fact, some of his Tiger teammates had known for years about this aspect of Sam’s personal life.

In a statement sent out shortly after Sam’s announcement, head coach Gary Pinkel said that “[w]e discussed how to deal with that from a public standpoint, and ultimately Michael decided that he didn’t want that to be the focal point of the season.”

“We left it that whenever he felt the time was right, however he wanted to make the announcement, that we had his back and we’d be right there with him,” Pinkel added.

Both Pinkel and athletic director Mike Alden used a form of the word “pride” in discussing the huge step taken by a former member of the football program.

“We’re very proud of Michael and the courage he has displayed for coming out,” Pinkel said.

Alden stated that “[w]e are proud of him on every level.”

Below are the complete texts of the statements from Pinkel and Alden, beginning with the former:

“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou. Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other. If Michael doesn’t have the support of his teammates like he did this past year, I don’t think there’s any way he has the type of season he put together.

“We talk all the time here in our program about how one of our core values is to respect the cultural differences of others, and this certainly applies. We view ourselves as one big family that has a very diverse collection of people from all walks of life, and if you’re part of our family, we support you.

“Looking back, I take great pride in how Michael and everyone in our program handled his situation. This past August, Michael was very direct with the team when he decided to let everyone know that he is gay. We discussed how to deal with that from a public standpoint, and ultimately Michael decided that he didn’t want that to be the focal point of the season. He wanted to focus on football and not do anything to add pressure for him or for his teammates, and I think that’s a great example of the kind of person he is. We left it that whenever he felt the time was right, however he wanted to make the announcement, that we had his back and we’d be right there with him.

“We’re very proud of Michael and the courage he has displayed for coming out. We look forward to following his career, and the success he’s going to have.”

__________________

“We are so proud of Michael for what he has accomplished at Mizzou academically, socially and competitively. This is a young man who earned his degree from MU, was a unanimous All-American on the football field and now he’s being a leader in his personal life. He continues to display great character, courage and compassion. We are proud of him on every level.

“We work very hard at the University of Missouri to provide an environment that is respectful and inclusive of all people. We’re pleased with the strides we’ve made over the years with our student-athletes, coaches and staff about respecting and celebrating our differences. We continue to grow every day. We talk all the time about our core value of respect, and we emphasize that in a number of ways, whether it’s through individual actions, team settings, public efforts such as our ‘If You Can Play, You Can Play’ video, and even our Men-for-Men and Women-for-Women programs.

“The University’s theme is called ‘One Mizzou.’ What that theme represents is that we are all family, we are all Tigers, and we should all respect and appreciate each other.

“We wish Michael all the best in all that he does.”

Lane Kiffin suspends FAU QB Chris Robison for spring practice after ‘internal matter’

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Florida Atlantic will go through spring practice without their starting quarterback this year.

Head coach Lane Kiffin told reporters after practice on Wednesday that former Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison was suspended all of spring for an “internal matter” and would not be with the team as a result.

“We don’t really discuss details on them, but it is what it is,” Kiffin said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We’re always trying to help kids grow and mature and hold kids to a high standard.”

This isn’t the first issue for the former four-star recruit. He was dismissed by the Sooners after a violation of team rules — four months after he was arrested for public intoxication. Then Kiffin slapped Robison with a day-to-day suspension last spring after the quarterback violated team rules with the Owls following his transfer in.

The loss of the team’s starting quarterback is quite notable given that Robison threw for 2,540 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018 on his way to being named co-CUSA freshman of the year. His absence leaves FAU with just one scholarship quarterback available this spring as Indiana transfer Nick Tronti and redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn battle for reps.

Ex-intern goes public with sexual harassment allegations against Cal football

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Sorting out the depth chart for spring football is suddenly on the back-burner in Berkeley this month.

On Wednesday, a former sports medicine intern at California published a Facebook post that detailed several allegations of sexual harassment against the football program, including current and former players and coaches.

“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media,” a statement from the school to ESPN  read. “Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided.”

The woman, Paige Cornelius, said that she had withdrawn from Cal in order to seek counseling therapy as a result of the alleged incidents. One such allegation leveled against the program was against a coach she said is still employed by the university, saying he invited her to a nearby pool and commenting on how she would look in a bikini. Another involved an unsolicited kiss from another staffer and comments from football players as well.

Speaking to ESPN, Cornelius said that she had tried to detail her allegations with athletic director Jim Knowlton and football coach Justin Wilcox but “didn’t receive a response,” prompting her to go public on social media and to other outlets.

Needless to say this isn’t the kind of headline that you want to have during a fairly big offseason for the program as the #MeToo movement hits the Pac-12 program.

Details are mum but AD confirms Northern Illinois extends apparel deal with adidas for seven more years

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adidas wants more MACtion.

In a spring letter to supporters this week, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier confirmed a little bit of news that the program had extended their apparel deal with the German sportswear company for seven more years.

“Speaking of gear, I am excited to announce that we have extended our existing relationship with adidas for the next seven years,” Frazier wrote. “Look for more details on this soon!”

It’s a busy spring for the Huskies, who are coming off a MAC title in 2018 but will be seeing plenty of changes outside of their apparel deals with a new head coach in alum Thomas Hammock.

While the school re-upping with the three stripes is unlikely to be the sort of lucrative deal worth nine figures that some of their Power Five brethren have gotten, every little bit of extra money at a program like NIU counts and they will likely be able to plow that right back into the football program among other things.

We’ll have to see just how lucrative the deal is in the end but more money and more stability is a nice bit of business to take care of as spring football winds down in DeKalb.

Louisiana governor calls LSU head coach Ed Orgeron a bargain, declines to comment about ousting Tigers AD

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They say it just means more in the SEC and most can agree that it is certainly the case in Louisiana, where LSU football is a way of life for many in the state. It’s also a place where politics and sports find themselves in the same story more often than you would think.

Case in point came this week where Gov. John Bel Edwards called Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s new $4 million a year contract a “bargain” for the school on his regular call-in radio show.

“It’s the way things are… and quite frankly, there are other schools, in the Southeastern Conference especially, that pay more,” Edwards said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “His enthusiasm for all things LSU is apparent and it’s also contagious.”

The governor, who is up for reelection in the state this year, also stuck to sports just a bit longer. The Tigers athletic department may have things going in the right direction on the football field but athletic director Joe Alleva is no fan favorite for the way he ousted Les Miles a few years ago to hire Orgeron and has seen his basketball coach caught up in the FBI wiretap scandal that has swept up college basketball.

Despite being embattled and hearing calls for Alleva to be let go, Edwards declined to go down that road as well in saying he was not in favor of a change in LSU leadership.

All politics is local after all and in the state of Louisiana, LSU football — and the athletic department in general — are certainly a subject worth commenting on for those in charge.