On Sunday night, Oklahoma assistant Cale Gundy released a lengthy statement announcing, "with great anguish," his sudden retirement from the team. Gundy wrote that he's leaving the Sooners after more than 30 years because of an incident at a team film session last week, wherein he reprimanded a player for not taking notes by grabbing the player's tablet and reading the messages that were on the screen in front of the whole team. This classic bit of Is there anything you'd like to share with the rest of us? classroom reprimanding blew up in Gundy's face when he failed to stop himself from reading one particular word that was on the player's screen.
"One particular word that I should never—under any circumstance—have uttered was displayed on the screen," Gundy wrote. "In the moment, I did not even realize what I was reading and, as soon as I did, I was horrified."
Cale Gundy, OSU head coach Mike Gundy's younger brother, played quarterback for the Sooners from 1990 through 1993. After a short stint as an assistant with UAB, he returned to Oklahoma to take an assistant coaching job in 1999 when Bob Stoops was hired. In his 23 seasons on the Sooners' sideline, Gundy served as running backs coach, receivers coach, and assistant head coach. Before he resigned on Sunday, he had been the longest-tenured coach in the Big 12, and his sudden departure appears to have come as quite the shock. Former star OU running backs Adrian Peterson and Joe Mixon both released statements—via the Apple Notes app and official Joe Mixon letterhead, respectively—in support of Gundy. "If not for Coach Gundy I would not have attended OU, survived at OU, stayed at OU, and succeeded in life after OU," Mixon wrote. "I owe my education and professional career to him and most importantly I owe who I am as a person to him." He went on to stress in remarkably strong terms that Gundy, A) is not racist, and B) should be reinstated by Oklahoma with immediate effect, which frames Gundy's departure as a firing rather than a resignation.
First-year Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables, who coached on the Stoops staff with Gundy for 12 seasons, released a statement of his own thanking Gundy for his "commitment" to the program. "We also acknowledge that in stepping aside he's placed the program and the welfare of our student-athletes first," the statement read. "In coaching and in life, we're all accountable for our actions and the resulting outcomes."
Nobody has come out and revealed exactly what Gundy said during the film session, but the swiftness of his resignation and other context clues make it pretty easy to figure out. It's certainly possible that there were factors beyond this specific incident that contributed to his resignation, but for now he is entitled to some credit for accepting the consequences of his actions and swiftly resigning from his job. The alternative would have almost certainly resulted in a drawn-out PR battle with someone in a position of power at OU making the So what if he had been reciting a song lyric? Would he be allowed to say it then? argument, and nobody wants to deal with that.
Update, 4:01 p.m.: Venables has released another statement, referring to the word as "racially charged" and reiterating that resigning was "the right thing" for Gundy to do, as he said it multiple times.