Kyle Moats, Missouri State University’s Director of Athletics, told reporters today that he has no reason to doubt his football coach, Dave Steckel, and that anyone suggesting he should is simply trying to drive a wedge between two committed partners.
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Springfield News Leader discovered unusual spending on a series of gifts sent to University of Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk. The News Leader‘s report said the gifts included but were not limited to:
- An Edible Arrangements fruit and cookie display (9/11/17)
- 1 750ml bottle of 25-year-old Macallan single malt scotch (9/18/17)
- 1 Breitling Navitimer watch (9/25/17)
- 2 St. Louis Cardinals season tickets (10/9/17)
- A Hallmark greeting card reading “Thinking fondly of you! Love, Steck” (10/16/17)
Three years ago, Missouri State gave Steckel his first head coaching job in a career that stretches back to 1983 and includes a stint with the Miami Dolphins. While Steckel’s record has been less than stellar in Springfield, Moat has given no indication Steckel’s job is in jeopardy.
“Stecky and I made a commitment to each other three years ago, and I’m not about to sully that because some cub reporter tried to make something out of nothing. Stecky has done nothing wrong,” Moat said.
News Leader investigative reporter Amy Welch asked Moat if he had noticed that the Steckel gifts to Sterk were sent exactly two days after each of Missouri’s five consecutive losses.
“Listen, in any relationship, there are going to be some bumps in the road,” the AD said. “After three years together, I’m inclined to trust Stecky in the face of some curious information. He comes home every night. He never complains. I don’t think I can read too much into this and neither should you.”
Steckel said while he remembers his time in Columbia fondly, Mizzou is his past and Missouri State is his future.
“I’m a Bear now,” he said. “Jimmy Sterk and I are just friends, and–are you still recording?–Jimmy can call me anytime he wants…you know, just to talk. Friends can talk.”
Steckel then made the ringy-dingy telephone gesture and mouthed the words, “Call me, Jimmy” before resuming his team’s workout.
Moat said, “See, just friends.”
Sunday morning, still relishing Missouri’s win over Arkansas on Friday night, Jim Sterk acknowledged the gifts and said he’d done nothing to encourage them.
“Listen, if Mr. Steckel got it in his head when we were 1-5 that I was just going to fire Barry and hire him, that’s on Steck,” Sterk said. “I don’t care if he cut his hair like mine and started dressing like me. It isn’t going to change how committed I am to my coaching staff. Coach Odom has known that for…at least 36 hours now.”