Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy came to his own conclusion this week on him wearing a T-shirt supporting One America News Network that drew ire from star running back Chuba Hubbard and other players.
In a video released on ESPN+ that claims it is part of an original series coming this fall following Oklahoma State football, Gundy sided with his players in their disgust about the show of support for OAN – a far-right news organization that had at least one personality claim the Black Lives Matter as a “farce” during the movement’s early years in 2016.
“I didn’t know that some of the stances they had taken. I didn’t know that,” Gundy said in the video released late Wednesday night. “But then you look at it, and say, ‘OK, I was a dumba--.’
“I put the shirt on not knowing enough about the shirt. I understood exactly why the players got frustrated when they found that out.”
However, Gundy has been a support of the OAN Network for the better part of the spring.
During his only media availability after the canceling of all sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gundy in April praised the network. Earlier this month the network ran reports that the 75-year-old man shoved by Buffalo police officers in a recent Black Lives Matter protest – that left the man bleeding from the head when he hit the ground – was an ANTIFA provocateur, though there is no evidence to corroborate the report.
“It was so refreshing. They just report the news, there no commentary,” Gundy said during his teleconference in early April. “There’s no opinions on this – there’s not left, there’s no right, they just reported the news. And I’ve been watching them last week because they are giving us the news, giving us more information, in my opinion, some of the positives coming out. So that was refreshing.”
In the video released by ESPN, Gundy said he did his own research into the network that he advocated for while his players have been away from football.
“I did a little research and was like, ‘What a dumba--.’ So that’s my fault” Gundy said.
In a video released via Oklahoma State Athletics on Tuesday, he claimed his players helped him “see through their eyes” on how Gundy wearing the OAN shirt could be considered as “insensitive” as Hubbard said in his original tweet Monday. The Cowboy coach said in the video – that he appeared to be reading off a prompter – that he was “disgusted” about the stance of the network and that it was “completely unacceptable to me.”
This week’s media storm comes just a few months after he also made national waves in that same April teleconference in which he spoke of the importance of getting his college athletes back on campus in order to restart the economy.
“In my opinion, if we have to bring our players back, test them, they’re in good shape, they’re all 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22-years old and they are healthy. A lot of them can fight it off with their natural body,” Gundy said. “The antibodies and the build that they have, there’s some people that are asymptomatic. If that’s true, then we sequester them, and people say that’s crazy. No, it’s not crazy, because we need to continue to budget and run money through the state of Oklahoma.”
Players have begun to return back to Stillwater for voluntary workouts, and at least three players – Amen Ogbongbemiga, Malcolm Rodriguez and Gabe Simpson – have confirmed that they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Gundy’s playing past is also catching up to him this week.
An old story from Gundy’s playing days also resurfaced following the backlash earlier in the week.
Following a game against Colorado in 1989, CU All-American linebacker Alfred Williams accused Gundy of allegedly using a racial slur.
Williams was quoted by the Tulsa World at the time: “When he said it to me, I was kind of surprised. I never said anything back, but before halftime I talked to one of their running backs and told him to talk to Gundy. I didn’t hear anything the rest of the game.”
It was corroborated in the story by several of Williams’ teammates, with linebacker Michael Jones stating, “He crossed a barrier in athletics he shouldn’t have crossed.”
However, in the same story following the second-ranked Buffaloes beating OSU 41-17, Gundy refuted the claims.
“I didn’t say anything like that,” Gundy is quoted. “I’ve been here four years and half my friends are black. I would never say that.”
Gundy’s star running back was featured on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, and was asked about the news of his coach being accused of using a racial slur in his playing days.
“Situations like that are tough,” Hubbard said. “I was born in 1999, so I personally can’t comment on something I don’t have any information on.
“I believe the people that were there know the truth, and that’s the most important thing.”
Hubbard was also pushed by the ESPN hosts to clarify what changes he and the players want to see within the program.
“I won’t go into complete specifics on exactly what we want changed as a team,” Hubbard said. “But I’ll say this, we want to better the experience for Black student-athletes, we want to encourage people to use their voice and use their platform for good. That’s the biggest thing.”
When asked about how his relationship with Gundy was prior to the picture surfacing this week, Hubbard said it was a “work in progress.”
“He’s admitted to his faults, he’s trying to move forward,” Hubbard said. “For me, I see that as a positive first step.”
Hubbard and Gundy have not been made available to the local media, though an Oklahoma State spokesperson told the News Press that they are hopeful to give access to them soon.