Mike Gundy, the Oklahoma State football coach who faced strong backlash last month after being spotted wearing an OAN shirt, has agreed to accept a $1 million pay cut and a one-year reduction in contract length.
“The changes were offered up by Mike Gundy, and I commend him for that. It was his idea to take a million-dollar pay cut,” Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder said on Friday. “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.”
As ESPN reports, “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% to 50%.”
Holder hastened to add, “I want to emphasize, every one of those was offered up by Mike Gundy.”
The salary reduction and contract reduction come as at least a bit of a surprise. Gundy did, after all, apologize for any “pain and discomfort” he caused by wearing the OAN shirt.
In addition, the review conducted by the university did not uncover any actual instances of racism in Gundy’s program.
So why was Gundy further punished?
“This wasn’t about a T-shirt,” Holder explained. “This was about a lot of things. 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.
“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 added, “All the players should be commended for having the courage to speak out. We need more of that in society, not less. That doesn’t mean the players are in control.”
Though, given that it was a player, star running back Chuba Hubbard, who publicly criticized his head coach for wearing the OAN shirt. And, Gundy apologized for wearing the shirt despite the fact that he clearly likes the network. Coupled with the fact that the players apparently criticized Gundy enough during the school’s review that administrators felt Gundy deserved even more punishment.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the players are indeed, in control.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn