Oklahoma State launched a diversity and inclusion council Wednesday amid fallout with football coach Mike Gundy’s decision to wear a T-shirt with the One America News network logo, a conservative news network that has promoted unfounded conspiracies.
Jason Kirksey, the university's Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer, will chair the program. Housed within Oklahoma State’s Division of Institutional Diversity, the council will include students, athletes and alumni.
"We are grateful that Dr. Kirksey has agreed to lead our efforts moving forward," said Chad Weiberg, Oklahoma State's deputy athletic director, in a statement released by OSU. "The athletic department could make a lot of promises and declarations about what we will be doing, but our future actions will speak for us. Under Dr. Kirksey's leadership, we will be very intentional in our efforts, but our driving goal will be to get better."
The council is formed after Chuba Hubbard, a Heisman Trophy candidate and Oklahoma State running back, said on Twitter on June 15 that he “will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE” after seeing the photo of Gundy wearing OAN shirt, which has openly criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, while on a fishing trip on Lake Texoma.
Cowboys linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga was one of the many current and former players echoing Hubbard’s comments and supporting him. University president Burns Hargis addressed the situation on Monday evening, writing on Twitter that, "I hear and respect the concerns expressed by our Black student-athletes. This is a time for unity of purpose to confront racial inequities and injustice. We will not tolerate insensitive behavior by anyone at Oklahoma State."
Later that evening, Gundy posted a video on Twitter saying that he met with players who were critical of the shirt, like Hubbard, and said he’s "looking forward to making some changes." The video ended with Hubbard and Gundy hugging, and the running back saying, "that was bad on my part" for criticizing his coach on social media.
On Tuesday, Hubbard took it a step further with a statement of regret for not addressing the matter in person rather than social media. He spoke out because he was “emotionally drained” and “tired of seeing stuff happening without results or consequences.”
"I was never wrong for saying what I said," he wrote. "I am a man, and I realized I should have went to him as a man face to face rather than on twitter...But I had to hold him accountable either way."