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Commentary: Good thing OSU athletics has Mike Holder right now

There are plenty of Cowboy faithful who will criticize Holder if given the chance. Season tickets are too expensive. Ticket policies are too prohibitive. But anyone who has any of those beefs with Holder has to be thrilled to have him in OSU's corner.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: February 11, 2014 at 9:18 am •  Published: February 10, 2014

STILLWATER — Mike Holder watched the scene under that basket at Texas Tech unfold like the rest of us.

On TV.

In horror.

The difference is that as soon as Marcus Smart pushed a fan on Saturday night, Holder immediately knew that he'd be the one who'd have to deal with the whole mess.

“I didn't sleep very much,” the Oklahoma State athletic director said.

While he had a checklist of to-dos running through his head — talk to the Big 12, meet with Smart, call a press conference — his restlessness was also a product of lament. An athlete wearing an OSU jersey had behaved badly. Very badly.

It was a black mark on America's brightest orange.

The brand took another hit Saturday night, but Sunday afternoon, OSU took the first steps down the road to recovery.

Credit Holder.

There are plenty of Cowboy faithful who will criticize Holder if given the chance. Season tickets are too expensive. Ticket policies are too prohibitive. OSU athletics used to feel like a family; now, it feels like a business. But anyone who has any of those beefs with Holder has to be thrilled to have him in OSU's corner right now.

During Sunday's press conference, Holder was masterful.

He was direct.

“Playing competitive athletics is a privilege. It's not a right; it's a privilege. That privilege can be taken away from you. ... I value nothing more than playing by the rules and being a good sport.”

He was honest.

“I'd say for the most part, in the 47 years that I've been here, I've been very proud of the way our athletes and coaches have represented our institution. Last night wasn't our finest hour. It wasn't Marcus Smart's finest hour.”

He was poignant.

“As bad as it was, I'm still proud that (Smart) is a Cowboy. I know we are blessed that he chose to come here. We've got a lot more years of association together, and there is going to be a lot more pride, rather than regret, that we came together.”

He was heartfelt.

“I'm honored to stand up here by (Smart). He's got a big valentine beating in his chest. He stands for a lot of the great things about college athletics. He made a mistake, but let's not crucify him for it.”

All of it was exactly what OSU needed.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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