(Reuters) - Gary Pinkel, the head coach of the University of Missouri’s football team, said on Friday he has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and will resign at the end of the year.
Pinkel, who was diagnosed in May, said he informed his staff and team on Friday, the eve of the Tigers’ game against Brigham Young University at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
The school said the 63-year-old Pinkel received “multiple treatments” in May and June. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the blood.
“I made the decision in May, after visiting with my family, that I wanted to keep coaching, as long as I felt good and had the energy I needed,” Pinkel said.
After Missouri played Vanderbilt on Oct. 24, Pinkel said he scheduled a PET scan on Oct. 26 for reassessment. He then visited with his family and decided the next day that this would be his last year of coaching.
“I still feel good physically, but I decided that I want to focus on enjoying my remaining years with my family and friends, and also have proper time to battle the disease and give full attention to that,” he said in a statement.
Pinkel, who spent 10 seasons coaching at Toledo before coming to Missouri, said he will remain as the Tigers’ coach through Dec. 31 or until a new head coach is in place.
“I want to make very clear that I‘m not doing poorly, and that this is a manageable disease, but it’s one that will never go away,” Pinkel said.
“So many people have bigger struggles with other forms of cancer and other serious diseases, and I feel blessed that I’ve got something I can fight and still enjoy a good quality of life.”
Pinkel has a 117-71 record at Missouri in 15 seasons and has played in 10 postseason bowl games. The Tigers are 4-5 this season after going a combined 23-5 over the past two campaigns.
Pinkel was recently embroiled in the racial controversy at Missouri that included a group of African-American football players boycotting all team activities until school president Tim Wolfe was removed from office. Wolfe resigned on Monday.
”I don’t know how many years I have left, but I want to turn my focus to life outside of the daily grind of football,“ he said.”
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington, editing by G Crosse