It’s safe to say none of us would be aware — or at least as aware — of the Concerned Student 1950 protests at Missouri had the football team not gotten involved.
It’s been a few news cycles since then, so for those who need some refreshing: last November, as tensions over treatment of black students on Mizzou campuses came to a boil, the Tigers’ football team jumped in the middle, suspending all football activities until UM systems president Tim Wolfe stepped down. The announcement was made the night of Saturday, Nov. 7, a Mizzou bye week. Skipping the following Saturday’s date with BYU could have cost the athletics department $1 million.
That ox sufficiently gored, the national spotlight moved on to the next controversy.
Except now Wolfe is back to tell his side of the story.
In a letter disclosed to an unknown number of parties and published by the Columbia Tribune, Wolfe goes scorched earth on the entire MU system. Here’s what he had to say on the football team:
The football team’s decision to strike is what actually brought most of the national attention to our university. In hindsight, the $1 million penalty associated with forfeiting the game against BYU would have paled in comparison to the more than $25 million in lost tuition and fees MU will realize with reduced enrollment this Fall. It’s also a pittance of the threatened loss of state funding that could be as much as $500 million. Unfortunately, MU Athletic Director Mack Rhoades, Coach Pinkel and Bowen Loftin all failed to communicate with system officials on this matter. The football team’s actions were the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a small fire. Coach Pinkel missed an important opportunity to teach his players a valuable life lesson. The end result could be a financial catastrophe for our university.
Is this a man finally telling the truth now that he’s got nothing to lose? Or is it a guy making a play after some buyout money?
“All negotiations with the board have stopped and I’m left with the options of either accepting a small fraction of the total compensation that I could have made if I had stayed through the end of my contract, or to litigate which would involve going public with the reasons as to why I was the target of Concerned Student 1950,” Wolfe writes.
“To put the Board’s offer into perspective, Bowen Loftin receives 75% of his former salary after he was forced to resign as chancellor. Also, the Board recently quickly approved an amendment to Coach (Gary) Pinkel’s contract where he will be paid an additional $350k per year for three years after he resigned. The amount the board has put on the table for me is equivalent to what I would have been paid if they had terminated without cause and my annual performance and longevity incentive. In addition, they want me to agree to a “gag order” where I will not disparage the Board or anybody else concerning events leading up to my resignation. The Board’s last offer is neither fair nor consistent with Loftin and Pinkel’s treatment and is embarrassing in light of which leader did the right thing to help the university and which leader was only looking out for themselves.”
While there’s no telling how this imbroglio unfolds, here’s one thing that’s certain: new head coach Barry Odom would like the entire escape to go away as fast as possible.