Gary Pinkel pleads guilty to DWI
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Suspended Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving Friday and received a 30-day suspended sentence along with two years' probation.
Two hours after he was formally charged, Pinkel and his attorney were in Boone County court. His plea renders a scheduled December court date moot.
"Mr. Pinkel seemed to want to get the case resolved and accept responsibility for his actions," said assistant prosecutor Cassandra Rogers. "This is definitely unusual that this was resolved so quickly. But it's not unheard of. As soon as I file the charges, anybody has the right to bring up the case earlier (than the scheduled hearing)."
Pinkel, 59, was arrested in Columbia on Wednesday night and suspended without pay the next day for the final home game of the season against Texas Tech on Saturday. He is expected to return for the final regular season game against Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, likely the school's final Big 12 Conference game before it moves to the Southeastern Conference next year.
According to a probable cause statement obtained by The Associated Press, Pinkel was driving a black 2010 Chevy Avalanche just after 10 p.m. Wednesday. He was driving 30 mph in a 65-mph zone but then sped up to 65 mph as he took a highway exit and failed to signal a lane change
Pinkel "made a wide right turn ... from a left turn lane" at the top of the exit ramp and then a "wide left turn crossing the double yellow line several feet prior" to another intersection, a deputy wrote. The vehicle nearly struck a curb during a turn.
The deputy said Pinkel's eyes were "glassy and bloodshot." The coach acknowledged having two glasses of wine between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. but said he could not take a field sobriety test because of an Achilles tendon injury.
Pinkel initially refused to provide a blood sample but later consented after the deputy took him to a nearby hospital for the test. Those results will likely not be processed now that Pinkel has pleaded guilty, Rogers said. According to Rogers, Pinkel also refused to take a breath test, although there is no mention of either a request or his refusal in the deputy's report.
Pinkel will lose as much as $306,000 for the incident. Athletic director Mike Alden said the 11th-year coach won't get the $75,000 bonus his contract stipulates nor a $100,000 annual payment for meeting certain team academic and social goals. He also loses an automatic $50,000 raise at the end of the year, one week's worth of his base salary and guaranteed incentives and a $75,000 bonus should Missouri (5-5) earn a bowl game bid.
Rogers said the sentence is standard for first offenders. The coach's attorney, Bogdan Susan, concurred.
"He got no favors," Susan said.
In an open letter to "Tiger Nation" on Friday, Pinkel said he "betrayed that trust" built up over the past 11 seasons as one of the school's most successful coaches. Pinkel is 82-54 overall, including three 10-win seasons in the last four years and six consecutive bowl game appearances.
"We've known each other for a long time and I've worked hard to represent you and the University of Missouri, a place we all love, with the highest standards of integrity," he wrote. "I put myself in a situation that was absolutely counter to those standards and it pains me to know that I let you all down."
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will lead the team this week, assisted by offensive coordinator Dave Yost,
Pinkel earns a guaranteed annual salary of $2.35 million In April, he received a two-year contract extension through the 2017 season. His teams have largely avoided off-field trouble, although two players and assistant coach Bruce Walker were arrested on alcohol-related charges in August 2010, with another player arrested on alcohol charges in October 2010.
As a condition of his probation, Pinkel must also receive a substance abuse assessment and attend monthly courthouse classes that include drunken driving victims.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press