Caravan brings Tigers coaches to fans

Thursday, March 24, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:50 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 27, 2008

Face-to-face conversations with the Missouri athletic director are rare for Tigers fans.

But the Mizzou Caravan, a promotional tour featuring Missouri athletic officials and student-athletes, offers such a situation on an annual basis.

This year, the caravan will make stops in St. Joseph, Springfield and Mendon, the Missouri athletic department and the MU Alumni Association announced Wednesday.

Among those appearing are Gary Pinkel, the Tigers football coach, Quin Snyder, men‘s basketball coach, and Mike Alden, MU athletic director.

Mike Kelly, the Missouri director of broadcast operations, who is known as the Voice of the Tigers, will emcee all the events.

“(The caravan) is an outreach opportunity for us as a department,” Kelly said. “More than anything it’s a thank you (to the fans) for their support and loyalty over the years.”

The three-day tour stops first in St. Joseph on April 19, continues on to Springfield on April 20 and finishes in Mendon on April 21.

Each event usually draws more than 200 people and includes speeches by coaches and Missouri athletic officials about recent events and future plans, as well as a generally upbeat question and answer session for each of the speakers.

“(Subject matter) is wide open, the good, the bad, and the indifferent,” Kelly said. “Last year people had a concern about the investigation so they wanted to ask about that. I’m sure there will be a wide variety of questions asked this year.”

Pinkel is slated to make appearances at Springfield and Mendon, while Snyder will be on hand for the St. Joseph stop.

“By far the biggest event, Mizzou wise, in northwest Missouri,” Seth Wright, St. Joseph’s event coordinator, said. “Most fans don’t get an opportunity to meet or see the head basketball coach very often, especially in a relaxed atmosphere, away from the arena and in their hometown.”

Wright said he expects the questions directed at Snyder to stay positive.

“Most people are very considerate in the questions they ask,” Wright said. “We would hope to have him want to come back.”

Chad Moller, a Missouri athletic department spokesman, said the Mizzou Caravan is a chance to inform core Tigers supporters about the great things going on at Missouri.

“It’s been Mike Alden’s mandate since he’s been here that we can’t run our program from behind our desks,” Moller said. “(The caravan) is a chance for us to take our program to other parts of the state.”

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