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Oklahoma football: Bob Stoops weighs in on HBO's RealSports episode on academics in sports

by Ryan Aber Published: March 25, 2014

— Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was ready to go when asked about Tuesday night’s episode of RealSports on HBO.

“Why’d you guys wait so long to ask?” Stoops said when the subject was broached about 15 minutes into Tuesday evening’s interview session.

“It doesn’t bother me a bit,” Stoops said. “You talk to one guy out of the thousands that have been through here? Pretty simple to say and all you have to do is listen to what Gabe Ikard, who’s just won a scholastic scholarship and has been up for the scholastic Heisman and who is multidisciplinary studies and is going to be a doctor when he’s finished.”

The show featured former athletic department official Gerald Gurney, who is still an assistant professor at OU, and former Sooner offensive lineman Eric Mensik.

Mensik called his multidisciplinary studies degree a “football degree” when speaking to Bernard Goldberg, who reported the piece for HBO.

The episode deals with the change, about a decade ago, from more strict entrance requirements to measuring college athletic programs by their Academic Progress Rates. If APR rates fall below a certain threshold, teams can be penalized scholarships or held out of the postseason.

Real Sports, in interviews with Gurney, Mensik, former North Carolina and Memphis players and UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham, made the connection that schools funneled players to certain majors so they would graduate, without regard to what good that diploma did for them after college.

“Can you imagine what it might be like if the University of Oklahoma could not go to a bowl game?” Gurney said. “Could you imagine what might happen? I mean, that’s an impossibility.”

Stoops said he hadn’t seen the show before it aired.

“I wouldn’t imagine Eric is the only 25-year-old that doesn’t have the job he wants, right?” Stoops said. “I bet there are quite a few out there that are trying to get a better job. He’s a great young man and I don’t know what all it’s going to be, but I know we’re very proud about how hard we work with our guys.”

Ikard, who finished his eligibility last season and won many academic awards while at OU, took to Twitter to defend his degree a bit.

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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