Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the University of Oklahoma chapter of the SAE fraternity that has led to the expulsion of two students following a racist chant on a bus.
Switzer, an honorary Sigma Alpha Epsilon member himself, gave a couple of TV interviews and said that it’s not really fair to dismiss the entire fraternity for the actions of a few.
“It hurts me because I have a vested interest in this. As I said I am an SAE and I know the kids in this house,” Switzer said on KWTV Channel 9. “I spend some time over here, and I know what they’re like. Hey, I wouldn’t put up with that crap either, and they don’t either, and they don’t believe in it.”
He spoke with KOCO Channel 5 as well, saying:
“I understood that supposedly they were called bigots that lived in this house, none of them could live on this campus. I haven’t seen the interview, but if that happened and occurred, that’s no different from what those kids did on that bus. Throw a blanket over these kids that are here and say that they’re bigots? That’s unacceptable.”
The Oklahoma football team skipped practice on Monday to protest the video, and coach Bob Stoops joined the team. Sooners defensive standout Eric Striker posted a Snapchat that got passed around, and he later gave an interview to The Oklahomian with his thoughts on the situation. The whole piece with all of Striker’s comments is worth a read, but a couple things stood out:
“All of this has happened, and we kept it within and pushed it under the rug,” Striker said. “After (the video), we have to take a stand. Our voices have to be heard.”
One of Striker’s goals in every class he takes is to make sure his classmates know he’s not a stereotypical athlete. He speaks up and debates issues, and through that has made a wide variety of friends outside of the football team.
“I hope this message reaches all across the country, to kids coming up in Little League and on through high school ball,” Striker said. “You’re gonna do your thing, but don’t rely on football. You are a human being. You are a person.”
He said some responsibility falls on the African-American community to stop freely using the N-word.
“We need to straighten up and stop using the word,” he said. “Period.”
The SAE chapter at Oklahoma has been closed after the students in the house were given 24 hours to pack up their stuff. University of Oklahoma president David Boren said that he has “zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma” and that he was “proud of the reaction and response expressed by our entire university family.”