Oklahoma State announced the conclusions from its internal review of head coach Mike Gundy on Thursday night following his latest blunder last month — which sparked widespread backlash and condemnation, even from inside his own locker room.
While the athletic department admitted that Gundy has work to do, it said that it doesn’t believe any of Gundy’s actions were rooted in racism. Athletic director Mike Holder thinks Gundy has learned from this latest incident, too, and is headed in the right direction.
“Our internal review found that Coach Gundy needs to invest more time in building stronger relationships with his student-athletes,” Holder said in a statement on Thursday night. “However, our review has uncovered no signs or indications of racism.
“After meeting with Coach Gundy, I am confident that he listened to his student-athletes. I believe he is genuine in his commitment to strengthening relationships with his players. I believe this to be a win for everybody. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact this will have on our team.”
A statement from OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder. pic.twitter.com/1eOSujRiNv
— Oklahoma State Athletics (@OSUAthletics) July 3, 2020
A photo surfaced last month that showed Gundy wearing a T-shirt with a One American News logo on it, again showing his support for the far-right news network that frequently pushes conspiracy theories and stands by President Donald Trump without question.
Star running back Chuba Hubbard called Gundy out on Twitter shortly after, and threatened to sit out all team activities “until things change.” Several of his teammates, former Cowboys players and other athletes stood by him, too.
The two met later that day and posted a joint video, which included Gundy promising changes inside the program. He later called himself a “dumbass” for wearing the OAN shirt and admitted that he didn’t know several positions the network has taken on issues — including one where an anchor called the Black Lives Matter a “farce.” He had previously praised the network in April, calling it “refreshing” because “they just report the news.”
That incident was just the latest in Gundy’s 15 years in Stillwater, in which he’s compiled a 129-64 record, been ranked nationally in all but three seasons and only failed to reach a bowl game once.
Despite his track record, however, neither Holder nor school president Burns Hargis believe his issues have to do with anything but poor personal relationships with his players.
“The underlying issue was a lack of personal relationships between the head coach and players rather than anything racial,” Hargis said in a statement, in part. “This issue is fixable. After meeting with Mike Holder and Mike Gundy, I believe they are committed to taking steps to strengthen the relationships, which will improve communications and the program.
“I appreciate the student-athletes speaking candidly and the efforts of Mike Holder and Chad Weiberg to spend considerable time listening to past and present players. It is time to turn our attention to preparing for this year’s highly anticipated football season.”
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