“This was about way more than a T-shirt.”

I carp a fair amount about Greg McGarity’s lack of PR skills, but compared to this, he’s a friggin’ PR guru.

After OSU players got a text message from team officials on March 17 telling them there’s “no need for you to return to Stillwater for any football related activities” because of COVID-19, they had little contact with Gundy as a team in the following two months.

Gundy compounded his lack of leadership and presence in front of the players with a series of actions and comments that simmered an undercurrent of anger in the program.

In his infamous COVID-19 news conference in early April, Gundy did more than issue his decree for the players to return to Stillwater to “run money through the state.” It wasn’t lost on the players that their coach, who makes $5.25 million per year, cast the players as robotic economic pawns rather than humans vulnerable to the pandemic.

Along with trying to restart the economy, Gundy resisted a pay cut.

He said of salary cuts, which have become commonplace for millionaire coaches: “I personally don’t want to get involved in that. It’s too early for me.”

Some of the internal frustration came from an announcement in late April of the athletic department taking away the football players’ stipends and a limit on access to summer school classes. While the players eventually received stipend money from the school when they returned to campus in early June, the uncertainty amid the pandemic led to a period of frustration and a rise in tensions.

On April 23, a few weeks after Gundy’s remarks about “running money through the state,” Oklahoma State football players received a group text message from Rod Johnson, the assistant director of football operations. It came under the header: “IMPORTANT SUMMER SCHOOL INFORMATION.” Johnson told the players that access to summer classes would be limited to scholarship players “making progress toward summer or fall graduation or eligibility purposes for fall competition.”

Johnson also told them in text messages viewed by Yahoo Sports: “THERE WILL BE NO ROOM & BOARD STIPENDS.”

That news blindsided many of the Cowboys’ players during the financial crunch of the pandemic. Stipends pay about $1,200 per month. The lack of access to summer school classes for players meant some players wouldn’t be eligible for federal Pell Grants, which pay up to $3,000 for summer classes.

In an environment where many coaches rallied for their players, Gundy didn’t announce the cuts to the players or address them directly. Instead, Gundy had an underling text them.

That raises tone deafness to a whole new level.  “But wait,” you might say, “maybe there were other schools doing the same thi…”

A poll by Yahoo Sports of Big 12 schools showed that Oklahoma State was the only school that both announced cuts on summer classes and a stipend withdrawal while not cutting coach or athletic department salaries. Many cringed at the perception OSU presented, as Gundy has made nearly $45 million in salary as a head coach and athletic director Mike Holder is slated to make $950,000 this year.

Never mind.  No wonder the players reacted the way they did.

17 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy

17 responses to ““This was about way more than a T-shirt.”

  1. These athletic departments are headed up by morons.

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  2. $1200/month is Okey State’s stipend? How much is UGA’s, anybody know?

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    • Ran A

      I tried to find something current; best I could do was a Dawgnation from 2017 that stated out of state players received around $3,600. The articles from 2015 had Georgia near the bottom around $2,500, with UTjr. at the top (around $5,500). You can bet Georgia isn’t around the bottom anymore.

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    • Anonymous

      That stipend is for people that live off campus. It is to pay for rent, utilities, food, etc. It is your standard room and board. Players got that before the “full cost of attendance” stipends.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Doug

    Sacrificing is for the little people, everybody knows that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dawgflan

    Set aside Kirby Smart (who I am glad to have as coach) and UGA for a second and consider: Not only would March Richt have proactively taken a pay cut, everything we know about him suggests he would likely have donated money back to the school for the team’s tuition and stipend. Add to it that compared to Gundy he has a better overall record, consistently finished the season with higher ranked teams, and taken his programs to more post-season appearances, yet Mr. Mullet is seen as some great, irreplaceable coach. Screw Gundy, OK State, and the ghost of T. Boone for good measure.

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    • ASEF

      Expectations are a bitch.

      Richt was surrounded by programs hoisting trophies, with a penny-pinching AD running his logistics. Gundy is in Stillwater. With Pickens’s cash the wind at his back.

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  5. W Cobb Dawg

    Isn’t taking long for that program to come apart since T. Boone Pickens passed last year. Covid-19 is hastening the demise.

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  6. 123fakest

    I don’t understand the finger pointing at Gundy. He is a (shitty) coach, not an administrator. This is the Athletic Department’s job.

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    • Russ

      You’re kidding yourself if you think these football coaches don’t run the departments. Do you think McFrugal tells Kirby what to do?

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      • 123fakest

        That only happens at maybe five schools in the country. Remember Richt? McDoofus ran over Richt every damn year.

        I would be willing to guess someone in the Pickens family is running the department through a puppet AD. Anyway, it’s not the coach’s job to send out texts and other administrative stuff. He’s there to coach and fundraise, that’s it.

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