Oklahoma City — Star Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard suggested Monday he may boycott the program after coach Mike Gundy was photographed wearing a T-shirt displaying the One America News Network, a far-right news channel that has been praised by President Donald Trump.
Gundy is seen in a photograph on Twitter wearing the shirt with the letters OAN. In a tweet responding to the photo, Hubbard said: “I will not stand for this. This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it’s unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE.”
His comments led the school’s president and athletic director to issue statements of concern and support.
Hubbard, who is an African-American, has been more active on social media since George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, died in the custody of Minneapolis police while under the knee of a white officer. Hubbard has been supportive of protests around the world.
Several current and former Oklahoma State athletes responded to Hubbard’s tweet with support. Current linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga declared “I stand with him!” while former Cowboys running back Justice Hill, now with the Baltimore Ravens, tweeted: “OSU Athletics and University need major change. 100% support brotha.”
Hubbard’s comments sent ripples all the way to the top of the university.
“I hear and respect the concerns expressed by our Black student-athletes,” Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis said in a statement. “This is a time for unity of purpose to confront racial inequities and injustice. We will not tolerate insensitive behavior by anyone at Oklahoma State.”
The discussion also got the attention of Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder.
“This afternoon has been very disturbing,” Holder said in a statement. “The tweets from the current and former players are of grave concern.”
An OAN commentator, Liz Wheeler, recently described the Black Lives Matter movement as a “farce” that speaks for “oppression” and “revenge.”
Gundy spoke about his fondness for OAN during a conference call with reporters in April that mostly focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was flipping through stations,” he said. “I found one — I don’t even know if anyone knows about this. It’s called OAN. It’s called One America News. And it was so refreshing. They just report the news. There’s no commentary, there’s no opinions on this. There’s no left, there’s no right. They just reported the news.”
His praise for OAN followed several minutes explaining how he felt the “mainstream media” had been too negative in its coverage of what he called the “Chinese virus.” He apologized a few days later.
“I have been made aware that comments from my press conference have offended some,” Gundy said in a statement. “It was never my intention to offend anyone and I apologize. My first priority is and will always be the student-athletes and doing what is best for the program and the university.”
In that same April interview, Gundy had pushed for a hasty re-opening of facilities, but Oklahoma State disagreed with his timetable. The school recently re-opened its facilities, only to have several players test positive for coronavirus. Ogbongbemiga said on Twitter that he tested positive after he attended a protest in Tulsa.
Gundy addressed Floyd’s death and the subsequent civil unrest in a statement on Twitter: “I’m thankful to be in an environment with Oklahoma State football and our Cowboy Culture where we respect each other. The 200 people in our family understand and appreciate diversity and have compassion for one another. I hope we replace the rage with respect and all come together.”
Hubbard was NFL draft-eligible, but he chose to return to school. He was a first-team All-American and the AP Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year last season and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting. His season total of 2,094 rushing yards was the second-best single-season total in school history, trailing only Barry Sanders’ 1988 Heisman season.