Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder told reporters Friday that he thinks the school’s football players should be commended for speaking up about coach Mike Gundy.
OSU announced Thursday night that it had concluded an internal review of Gundy’s conduct. While the school admitted that Gundy needed to make some strides in building relationships with his players, it said that it didn’t believe any of Gundy’s actions were rooted in racism.
Players — including star running back Chuba Hubbard — spoke out about the program’s culture after a photograph of Gundy wearing a shirt promoting a far-right, conspiracy-theory-mongering cable news network surfaced on social media.
“I think the players should be commended for having the courage to speak out,” Holder said. “We need more of that in society, not less. That doesn’t mean the players are in control. There’s a reason that the adults are in the leadership positions. There’s a quote that I really love, if youth knew if age could. And that’s really what coaching’s all about. Me at 71 years of age, obviously I don’t have the physical skills to do what I could at 18 or 20. But hopefully I’ve learned some things along my life journey that make me a lot smarter than I was at 18 or 20 years old. So I think coaching is a two-way street, it has to be communication between the coach and the player. And when that line of communication is there it allows a relationship to be built.”
A former Oklahoma State QB, Gundy has been Oklahoma State’s coach for the past 15 seasons. As his current and former players called him out on social media, a former opponent of Gundy’s reiterated his accusation that the OSU coach called him the N-word during a game in 1989. At the time, Gundy immediately denied the accusation in a postgame story.
Gundy takes pay cut
Gundy was one of the highest-paid coaches in college football in 2019. Gundy was the 13th-highest paid coach in the country last season with a salary of over $5.1 million.
Holder said that Gundy offered to take $1 million less per season going forward and his contract was also amended. Instead of a perpetual five-year deal that added on a season at the conclusion of every season, Gundy is now on a standard four-year deal. His buyout for a firing without cause is also now at 50 percent of what remains on his contract instead of 75 percent.
Gundy’s pay cut comes after Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel noted in his story about the Oklahoma State culture in June that Gundy said he didn’t want to get involved in pay cuts earlier this year.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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