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      Overwhelming support for Michael Sam at MU

      MU Athletic Director Mike Alden discusses Michael Sam's announcement with reporters on Monday.

      Top university officials told reporters Monday they were proud of how Michael Sam handled his announcement over the weekend that he is gay.

      The star defensive end first publicized his sexual orientation on Sunday on ESPN. Sam would be the first openly gay player to enter the NFL draft. MU Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said over the weekend Sam told him and the team back in August but chose not to make an issue of it prior to the 2013 season.

      At a Monday afternoon news conference, Pinkel said diversity is par for the course for his football teams.

      "There's a lot of differences with those 127 players. There's race, there's religion, there's all kinds of different things. But at the end of the day, you know, you're respectful to people," he said.

      MU Athletics Director Mike Alden praised how Sam conducted himself.

      "He's a fine young man, and the way he represents Mizzou is outstanding," he said.

      Cathy Scroggs, MU's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said she thought Sam's decision was a good sign of inclusiveness on MU's campus.

      "We might be doing something pretty well if a guy like Michael Sam can tell his team and perform, win the Cotton Bowl and be supported by the student body," she said.

      Alden said he hoped Sam's actions would help others following in his footsteps.

      "Hopefully, situations and events like this that provide national awareness can provide even more confidence to others that want to follow with those same types of announcements," Alden said.