University of Missouri

‘Bring it on:’ Barry Odom not backing down after Mizzou football team punished by NCAA

Barry Odom had a curve ball thrown at him Thursday after the NCAA announced a one-year bowl ban on his Missouri football program as part of penalties for academic fraud committed by a former athletic department tutor.

Odom met with reporters on Friday to discuss the case and described the news as “shocking” after receiving it Thursday morning.

His Thursday statement on Twitter called the NCAA infraction committee’s decision “unjust and unfair” and Odom said Friday he backs it with even more conviction.

Others joined in support of MU on Friday, including U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and University of Missouri Board of Curators chairman Jon Sundvold.

Sundvold said the committee “made a mistake,” and added that “I now expect the NCAA to do the right thing.”

Blunt encouraged the NCAA to take another look at the case and said he didn’t think it was fair to punish current athletes for infractions committed years ago.

The football team had a meeting Thursday morning to discuss the NCAA’s decision and Odom said he met privately with his seniors a few more times since.

In its decision, the NCAA said if MU seniors wanted to leave the program it would help in terms of easing transfer restrictions, but Odom said he hasn’t been told by any upperclassmen that they plan to leave. Odom added that a number of schools have already reached out to most of Mizzou’s seniors.

Missouri has already planned to appeal the ruling and hired Kansas City attorney Michael Glazier as its outside council. Odom said he wants to be involved with the appeal process as much as he can. No current Mizzou football players were involved.

Odom said if the committee of infractions doesn’t change its stance through the appeals process, it will leave a lot of gray area on schools doing the right thing by self-reporting violations in the future.

“We’re going on attack,” Odom said. “Bring it on.”

Aside from the postseason ban, Missouri was also dealt severe recruiting penalties, which include a 5 percent scholarship reduction, a reduction on official visits and a seven-week ban from contacting or visiting prospects.

Odom, echoing athletic director Jim Sterk’s comments Thursday, said he doesn’t understand the recruiting sanctions because the academic fraud had nothing to do with recruiting. Odom said the punishment is going to call for his staff to get “really, really creative.”

He’s unsure of the specifics with the violations and if the restrictions can be broken up or require his staff to spend seven consecutive weeks off the road.

Odom said he isn’t looking for sympathy and is ready to do his part.

“Nobody is sitting around saying, ‘Poor pitiful Missouri,’” Odom said. “I guarantee that. So bring it on.”

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.