Part 3 of the investigative series looking at misconduct inside Oklahoma State’s program was released Thursday and alleged a rampant drug culture and lax enforcement of its drug policy.
During a small sit-down interview in the spring, I asked Gundy about this very topic. Here’s what he had to say:
Are you satisfied with OSU’s drug testing policy?
We’ve had many discussions with myself and (athletic director Mike) Holder and our doctors and medical staff and students. What I’ve learned is there is no perfect answer in place. But we have a system here in place, we have a drug policy here in place, and that policy is in place to help a student-athlete if they have a problem. Most of what you see, in my opinion, out there is a social use. It’s just knuckleheads. Have there been issues with chronic users? Yes. We try to rehabilitate them in the proper way and keep them in the flow of school, academics and being a part of their team. That rate of success here has been pretty good, and I think the reason why is because myself and my bosses, we’re on the same page. We work very well together in those situations. And essentially, what our people do, they say, ‘Listen, here’s our policy,’ and then our coaches have to follow it. Then it’s up to your coach, so football falls on me. Then if there’s an issue, a discussion, we sit down, we talk about it, we try to make the best decision on what we think is good for the individual, the team and the university and then we move forward. It’s really that simple.
How different is the policy now compared to when you were a player?
Well, we didn’t even test. The one time we tested was once a year at the bowl game, and I think that was for steroids. It costs money, so we weren’t going to waste any money back then on drug testing. And I think there has to be some common sense in place for it. We, the people that make the decisions, have to be able to say, ‘Look, this young man’s got an issue’ or, ‘This young lady has a serious issue.’ It has nothing to do with football or it has nothing to do with girls basketball. It’s got something to do with this person that’s got a serious problem with drugs. That’s a whole different category. We don’t have many of those. Most of what we deal with is social users, guys out there doing stupid stuff, and we get it cleaned up really fast. Sometimes we have issues and it goes a little further than what I would like, but that’s part of the job. We have to deal with it, and most of the time we get it corrected really quick. But it’s out there. It’s never going to go away. Anybody that thinks it’s going to go away has lost their mind.
I’m not a big suspension guy. I don’t suspend guys a lot. I give them chances to be a part of the team and compete and we work through it. And then, ultimately, if they don’t buy in, then I usually don’t allow them to play here anymore. I’m not big on one-game suspensions or three games or whatever. I just don’t believe in that. That’s just my own opinion.
Suspending isn’t effective?
This is just me. There’s a lot of areas—drugs, if you have issues with the law, different things—my experience is if a guy’s got something going on, the absolutely worst thing you can do is take him away from his normal daily routine. They say, ‘Well, he’s suspended. He can’t practice.’ Well, what good is that gonna do for him? I’m just giving you my opinion. It doesn’t mean it’s right. I want him up. I want him lifting weights. I want him going to class. I want him going to study hall. I want him over here in meetings. I want him practicing with me. We have suspended a guy for a game or so for different things, but the majority of what we do here is not based on the suspension. It’s based on making a change and doing better, and if you don’t, over a period of time, they’re usually not here at all. I just don’t think guys can hang on and be suspended, not be suspended, hang out, back to suspended, come back. That’s just my opinion. And we’ve been fairly successful—very successful, I would say—in rehabilitating guys that are social drug users and rehabilitating guys that have had issues off the field and things like that. Because, ultimately, that’s what we should do.