Pinkel/Alden react to Sam announcement

Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel

"Weâ??re really happy for Michael that heâ??s made the decision to announce this, and weâ??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, heâ??s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesnâ??t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, weâ??re all on the same team and we all support each other. If Michael doesnâ??t have the support of his teammates like he did this past year, I donâ??t think thereâ??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 youâ??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 didnâ??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 thatâ??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 weâ??d be right there with him.

Weâ??re very proud of Michael and the courage he has displayed for coming out. We look forward to following his career, and the success heâ??s going to have."

Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden

"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 heâ??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. Weâ??re pleased with the strides weâ??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 itâ??s through individual actions, team settings, public efforts such as our â??If You Can Play, You Can Playâ?? video, and even our Men-for-Men and Women-for-Women programs.

The Universityâ??s theme is called â??One Mizzou.â?? 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."