“I have been made aware that comments from my press conference have offended some,” Gundy said in a statement. “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 also had said his players could return to campus in the fall, even if other students continued with distance learning, or players could be separated from the rest of the student body to limit the spread of the virus that has indefinitely put sports on hiatus. In-person classes were suspended last month. The policy was extended through the spring semester.
“In my opinion, we need to bring our players back,” Gundy said Tuesday (via Sports Illustrated). “They are 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 years old, and they are healthy, and they have the ability to fight the virus off. If that is true, then we sequester them and continue because we need to run money through the state of Oklahoma.”
Gundy told reporters the program generates about $36 million in revenue, adding: “So when you’re talking about continuing the economy in this state, if you have to play — plus, you need to play anyway. Everybody needs to see football. Even if you just watch it on TV, it’s going to make people feel better.”
The Big 12 has banned “organized, in-person team activities of any type, in any location” until May 31 or “until additional guidance is provided.” The move is in line with every other conference in the country, with administrators uncertain when athletic competition will resume. It also follows health experts’ recommendations for social distancing.
There has been speculation that the college football season could be pushed to next spring if the pandemic does not recede by the fall or that games could be played in empty stadiums, although athletic directors have expressed doubts that games would move forward without fans.
“We’re trying to find a way to pay everybody’s salary and keep the economy going,” said Gundy, who is 129-64 in 15 seasons with the Cowboys, “because if you’re paying salaries and people are working, then you’re keeping the economy going, and that gives us the best chance to stay on our feet.”