A “humble, remorseful” Mike Gundy has agreed to take a $1 million pay cut and amend his contract after a two-week review of the football program, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder said Friday.
“The changes were offered up by Mike Gundy and I commend them for that. It was his idea to take a million-dollar pay cut,” Holder said. “I think it really demonstrates his commitment to being a better coach. He wanted to make a statement that assured all the players that this wasn’t just about talk, this is more about action, and that’s the first step.”
In addition to the pay cut, Holder said the contract length was shortened from five to four years, his buyout was cut from $5 million to $4 million, and his guarantee dropped from 75 percent to 50 percent.
“I want to emphasize, every one of those was offered up by Mike Gundy,” Holder said.
The review, by Holder and deputy athletic director Chad Weiberg was prompted by criticism of Gundy after Cowboys running back Chuba Hubbard blasted him for wearing a T-shirt from OAN (One America News) in a photo that appeared on social media.
One America News is a far-right news network that is often cited by President Donald Trump and has tried to position itself as a place for a pro-Trump audience that believes other conservative news outlets have become too mainstream in their reporting. It has criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gundy apologized for the “pain and discomfort” he caused his players and others, and he vowed positive changes in his football program.
In addition, Alfred Williams, a former star linebacker at Colorado, told The Oklahoman last month that he wanted an apology from Gundy after renewing an allegation that the Pokes coach called him the N-word in 1989, when Gundy was a quarterback at OSU. Williams told the newspaper that he doesn’t want Gundy to be fired but does want to see “some growth.”
Holder said he spoke to “20, maybe more” OSU players, but did not talk to Williams.
“That was 31 years ago. That was resolved at that time,” Holder said. “I think everyone’s moved forward since then. Mike Gundy addressed it, denied it, and moved on. I think the actions of Mike Gundy since he’s been our head coach are more important than what happened 31 years ago.”
But in talking to current and former OSU players, Holder said a common theme emerged.
“This wasn’t about a T-shirt,” Holder said. “This was about a lot of things. The missing link has more personal relationship with their head coach. They respect him as an excellent game-day coach but they want more coaching on a personal level. This crosses all racial lines. To a man, our players want a better connection to Mike Gundy. They view him as a difference-maker and they want him to help them grow as leaders.”
He said Gundy was “humble, remorseful and committed to change,” after hearing the feedback.
“As uncomfortable as the last two weeks have been, I believe this experience has changed Mike Gundy and our players will be the beneficiaries,” Holder said.
Holder said the players should be commended for raising the issue.
“All the players should be commended for having the courage to speak out,” he said. “We need more of that in society, not less. That doesn’t mean the players are in control.”
The result of the review and the players’ input has been positive, in Holder’s view. He said he believes Gundy, who has been outspoken and controversial at times, has learned from this experience.
“I think it’s just reconfirmed and emphasized in his mind that he needs to be very guarded in what he does publicly. Everywhere he goes he’s a very public representative of our university,” Holder said. “What he wears, whatever he says, it’s his responsibility to represent us in a way that unites rather than divides. Things are going to be a lot less controversial going forward.”
According Holder, Oklahoma State has had 14 positive coronavirus tests. He said 12 of those have been football players, with the two others from the baseball team.