- Oklahoma State Cowboys star slot receiver Jalen McCleskey informed head coach Mike Gundy of his intention to redshirt and transfer for his final season of eligibility.
- After Gundy broke this news to the media, he was accused of making a threat to the media that they would lose access to members of the team for the rest of the season if they asked the players about McCleskey’s decision.
- Media relations coordinator Gavin Lang was then accused of threatening reporters not to disclose the first threat.
Senior receiver Jalen McCleskey dropped a bombshell on the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ football program this week, informing head coach Mike Gundy of his intention to redshirt and transfer for his final season of eligibility.
McCleskey ranks sixth all-time with 167 receptions for the Cowboys and ninth all-time with 17 career touchdown catches. His decision to redshirt and transfer schools came as a surprise to many, including Gundy himself:
“He just didn’t feel he was getting the ball enough, wants to save his year, and sit and transfer to another school,”Gundy told The Washington Post Monday. “I told him I didn’t think it was the best decision and hated to see it happen, but if that’s what he chooses to do, I can’t prevent it from happening.”
The situation in Stillwater, Oklahoma just got uglier from there.
After Gundy broke this news to the media, he was accused of threatening to revoke access to the team for the rest of the season if any of the reporters asked the players about McCleskey’s decision. Media relations coordinator Gavin Lang was then accused of taking it a step further and threatening reporters with sanctions if they reported the first threat.
According to a report by student media members Zach Hake, Jeremy Kolok, Wade Haugen, and Hallie Hart of the O’Colly, “reporters immediately took to the phones, calling editors and supervisors about what to do… A majority of the present media members… decided it was not worth losing the insider access audiences tune in for, especially because one reporter’s actions could cause repercussions for every reporter who covers the program.”
As student journalists, Hake, Kolok, Haugen, and Hart chose to confide in some of their professors about the situation. A different professor – who the student journalists allege they did not directly tell about the case – revealed the information via Twitter:
An OSU SID, on behalf of coach Mike Gundy, threatened the press corps with the loss of player availability for the rest of the season if any one of them asked players Tuesday about a player's departure this week. @spj_tweets @APSE_sportmedia @rcfp @collegemedia @1stAmendmentCtr
— Joey Senat (@Joey_Senat) September 26, 2018
“We never encouraged any professor to break the news or tweet criticisms about the journalists present,” Hake, Kolok, Haugen, and Hart wrote. “We did not go to our professors with the intention of having them leak the story and criticise the actions of those who were there. We simply wanted advice about how to handle the brewing storm going forward.”
Not only did other reporters corroborate these claims, but many outside parties indicated that this behaviour was consistent with who Gundy is as a coach and a person.
Oklahoma St coach Mike Gundy has been hiding in plain sight as a bully for years. Threatening reporters so they wouldn’t ask his players about the biggest story of the season is so childish and lame. And exactly what he’s like. Bad for journalists & fans: https://t.co/DMkuOy9Zde
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 27, 2018
Also: I feel for these younger journalists, who are being railroaded by a coach that is clearly abusing his authority. The message being sent is a dangerous one that sadly mirrors the tone of our current government. Someone above Gundy needs to check him. This is despicable. https://t.co/cN1xFOkSrt
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 27, 2018
This is never the way to handle this kind of thing. Never. Rather than trying to bully the press, Gundy should have told his team, “If anyone asks you about Jalen, just say no comment.” End of discussion. If Gundy’s not smart enough to know this, someone needs to coach HIM up. https://t.co/zREC8ent2o
— John E. Hoover (@johnehoover) September 26, 2018
Oklahoma State University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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