I'm sure most of you that read this might not even know what ORU is, where it is located, or why I even care to talk about it!
But a recent story that came out earlier this week in regards to the firing of Scott Sutton, the men's basketball coach, struck a nerve with me and I felt like I needed to say my peace.
And move on.
To start, Oral Roberts University (ORU) is a interdenominational liberal arts university based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with roughly 4,000 students. It was founded by evangelist Oral Roberts in the early 60s. It's small. But it has NCAA Division I Athletics.
Which is where I come in.
I graduated from Wichita State in 2007 with my master's in sports administration. I had spent the two previous years in the athletic media relations department at WSU working my tail off with all the sports, but my primary focus was cross country and track and field (two sports I knew ZIP about)! Media relations is basically all communications relating to sports - media guides, press releases, statistics, social media, media in general. There is so much that is a part of it!
I worked there for two years (and many days, especially in the middle of basketball season, it felt like 10 years) and learned SO much. And I worked with people I truly was happy to see every day (OK, maybe not EVERY day ... but almost every day)! I knew that when it was time to job hunt, surrounding myself with good people that I enjoyed was seriously important. I knew I couldn't go do that job - that can have you there early and staying late - and not like who I was working with.
|Working hard. Or watching the cheerleaders. Take your pick (I was probably doing both).|
I liked that it was only an hour and a half from my hometown. I liked that I sort of knew Tulsa because it was the 'big city' for us to travel to when we were younger. And I really liked the people in the athletic department, including Scott Sutton.
|I was usually in tears laughing because of these two -- Rich and Cliff!|
|My boss Cris and my coworker/buddy/brother Cliff|
But the last few seasons hadn't gone as well. This season, they were 8-22 and failed to make the conference tournament.
So, they let Scott go.
And he found out via Twitter.
Let that sit in.
You give 18 years to a school and you officially find out you were fired from social media.
Now, I'm not dumb enough to believe that there isn't more to this story. I know there is. I listened to a news conference the president and AD gave today. Apparently Scott had been given an ultimatum by the school - either stay another year or be done. He chose neither. So they said you're done.
Apparently they tried to call him and email him, but he just wouldn't answer, gosh darn it.
So they gathered the basketball team and told these young men that there coach had been fired.
And then... Scott finds out he lost his job. From Twitter.
As I was listening to this press conference, I just shook my head. What kind of leadership... what kind of PERSON does that to someone? It is MIND BOGGLING that this happened this way.
Sure, maybe it was time for Scott and ORU to part ways. This happens all the time in college athletics. It is what it is.
But this is not the way you treat someone who has been there for 18 years, much longer than the current president has been there (it has changed since I was there in 2007 so I don't even know his name).
It is straight up embarrassing.
ORU is a strange school. I didn't fully get that until I was there. I had to attend chapel -- this little Catholic girl at an evangelical church. I had to abide by an honor code that included no alcohol for anyone (side note and funny story: when I was interviewing with the athletic director, he asked me if I liked to drink and my response was, jokingly, "Well, only after a long day!" followed by a chuckle and smile from me. And then he proceeded to talk to me about the honor code and how drinking was not allowed. I went back and told my boss-to-be and I'm sure that was his first of MANY head shakings he did towards me! SOMEHOW, I still took the job. And still drank a beer after a long day - TAKE THAT, ORU!).
I remember asking a buddy that had graduated from there WHY he went there. His parents had went there... so when you grow up loving ORU, you go there. Totally get that response because hello, I grew up with parents who went to K-State, and look where I went!
But this place is odd. And many odd things happened while I was there. But it was so hush-hush and that what they are doing wasn't wrong because this is a Christian school so therefore the president of the school can take the school plane to the Bahamas for Spring Break and it won't matter!
It's just weird. And it felt (still feels) dirty. They pride themselves on being a Christian school, but then all they do is ask for money. Those that were in charge of the university were all evangelists... who spend the majority of their work day on TV. Asking for money. And that God will save you if you give.
So, dearest ORU, all of the backlash you are experiencing due to your handling of firing Scott, is what I call karma.
I wish NOTHING but the best for the wonderful people I worked for the in the athletic department (and for those that have since moved on). These people hold a special place in my heart.
But this school and its 'administration' is going to get there coming-to moment. They better go sit in front of the big hands and just pray.
For a looooong time.