Mike Holder Discusses Oklahoma State Football Review
STILLWATER – Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder met with the media via Zoom on Friday morning to discuss the findings of the near-two-week investigation into the football program.
The meeting came nearly 12 hours after the University announced their investigation into the program “uncovered no signs or indications of racism.” The investigation came after multiple current and former Oklahoma State football players called for change within the program.
“We have spent the past couple of weeks reviewing our program and talking with current and former players,” Holder said in his statement, issued via email. “Our internal review found that Coach Gundy needs to invest more time in building stronger relationships with his student-athletes. However, our review has uncovered no signs or indication 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 everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact this will have on our team.”
The Zoom call was to address the investigation and allow Holder to expand on the findings more in-depth. He addressed the findings right off the top with his opening statement.
“I’ll just say this, on Tuesday, June 16, Chad Weiberg and I began a journey seeking answers for the multitude of questions being asked about our football program and Mike Gundy,” said OSU AD Mike Holder. “Our only goal was to follow the truth wherever it led us and make the best decision or decisions for Oklahoma State University. No agenda, preconceived notions, selfish motives or nod to public opinion. We listen to multiple current former players and asked probing questions about their experiences. The more we listened, the more we learned, and a common theme began to emerge. This wasn't about a T-shirt. This was about a lot of things. … We learned that our players love always OSU. They love being on our football team. They love their teammates. There are a lot more positives about our program than negatives.
“The players want to be great, and they're willing to make sacrifices. They're unselfish and loyal. Our coaches have done a great job recruiting high-character young men. The missing link has been a 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. We conveyed this message to Coach Gundy, and his reaction has been everything that you would want. He has been humble, remorseful and committed to change. As uncomfortable as the last two weeks have been, I believe this experience has changed Mike Gundy, and our players will be the beneficiaries. At the end of the journey, the decision was obvious: Mike Gundy is an excellent coach, and he's accomplished a lot in his 15-year career. However, the best is yet to come.”
While we didn’t do a deep-dive into the football program as the athletic department did, Holder’s comments coincided with what Pokes Report found out from multiple former players including Deion Imade, Philip Redwine-Bryant and Richetti Jones. They didn’t speak of racism, but rather a coach that was just unaware and distant from his players, something that both Gundy and Holder said he’d be working on.
Mike Gundy also suggested, and accepted, a renegotiated contract. It includes an updated buyout clause, restructured terms and a $1 million a year pay cut. According to Mike Holder, the pay cut had nothing to do with the on-going coronavirus pandemic.
“I can confirm that it's true, and I can also confirm that it has nothing to do with the pandemic,” Holder said. “Those budget adjustments and salary cuts are in our future. I can't tell you what they're going to look like, right now. We have no clue what's going to happen with our ability to play sports of any kind this coming year. And if we have revenue shortfalls, we'll make the appropriate adjustments when we have better information.”