Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy apologizes for comments on coronavirus response

4:02 PM ET

  • Heather DinichESPN Senior Writer

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    • College football reporter
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
    • Graduate of Indiana University

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy on Saturday apologized for comments he made earlier this week during a teleconference in which he talked about the national and state responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gundy said on Tuesday that his goal was to return to the football building on May 1 because he hoped that tests for COVID-19 would be available in a few weeks to clear both employees and players — a proposed timetable the university and its athletic director quickly disputed.

“I have been made aware that comments from my press conference have offended some,” Gundy said in a prepared statement on Saturday. “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.”

Gundy said earlier this week that if somebody were to test positive after returning to work, that person would be “quarantined just like we do people that get the flu.”

“We get people that get the flu during the season, we quarantine them, we treat them, we make sure they’re healthy, we bring ’em back,” Gundy said. “It would be the same thing here, but at some point, we’ve got to go back to work. We’ve got to get these guys back in here. … From what I read, the healthy people can fight this, the antibodies make it better. They’re doing some blood transplants now with the people that have already gotten the disease, that have gotten over it that have the antibodies that can fight it. There’s a lot of people who can figure this out. May 1’s our goal. Don’t know if it will happen. Players will come in after that.”

Following Gundy’s comments, the university issued a statement saying, essentially, that the decision about when to bring the football team together wouldn’t be up to the coach.

“We will adhere to the advice of public health experts who are making informed decisions in the best interest of the citizens of our nation and state based on sound scientific data,” the university statement said. “We will also abide by the federal and state mandates as well as Big 12 guidelines. We will not compromise the health and well-being of our campus community. This virus is deadly and we will do our part at Oklahoma State to help blunt the spread.”

Athletic director Mike Holder also declined to back Gundy’s timeline, saying in a statement: “May 1 seems a little ambitious.”

COVID-19 has shut down sports across the globe, and college football has set no date for players to return to practice. Gundy said he was interested in hearing more positive news about the pandemic, which has crippled economies and forced restrictions on the movement of people around the world in an effort to stop the virus from spreading and overwhelming health care systems.

“I’m seeing total number of cases, but what I’m not seeing is how many number of those cases that are now back to a normal life,” Gundy said. “It’s really interesting to me to see with the mainstream media, sadly enough, just how negative everybody can be. Let’s just report the news. Let’s start putting some things in there that are positive, because I know there’s positive out there.”

Gundy said there could be people who work in the football building who are older or “maybe have some type of underlying condition. Maybe they don’t come back,” he said, “but the majority of people in this building who are healthy, and certainly the 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-olds that are healthy, the so-called medical people saying the herd of healthy people that have the antibodies maybe built up and can fight this. We all need to go back to work.

“I’m not taking away from the danger of people getting sick. You have the virus, stay healthy, try to do what we can to help people that are sick. And we’re losing lives, which is just terrible. The second part of it is that we still have to schedule and continue to move forward as life goes on and help those people.”

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