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Longtime Oklahoma Sooners assistant football coach Cale Gundy abruptly resigned on Sunday after inadvertently uttering a "shameful and hurtful" word.
The news shocked the college football world because, in a world with high coaching staff turnover, Gundy was an oddity: He served on the Oklahoma Sooners coaching staff in various roles for more than 20 years.
He was, in fact, the longest-tenured coach in the Big 12 conference, ESPN reported.
Gundy explained in a statement that during a film study session last week, he instructed his players to take notes. But he noticed one player was "distracted." So he took that player's iPad "and read aloud the words that were written on his screen."
"The words displayed had nothing to do with football," Gundy explained. "One particular word that I should never—under any circumstance—have uttered was displayed on that screen. In the moment, I did not even realize what I was reading and, as soon as I did, I was horrified."
Gundy, however, refused to disclose what word he said; he only described it as "shameful and harmful."
"I want to be very clear: the words I read aloud from that screen were not my words. What I said was not malicious; it wasn't even intentional," Gundy explained. "Still, I am mature enough to know that the word I said was shameful and hurtful, no matter my intentions."
"The unfortunate reality is that someone in my position can cause harm without ever meaning to do so," the coach added. "In that circumstance, a man of character accepts accountability. I take responsibility for this mistake. I apologize."
One college football writer for CBS Sports reported that Gundy uttered the N-word. That has not been confirmed.
It remains unclear whether Gundy resigned under his own volition or if he was forced out of his job over fears his mistake would blow up into a larger scandal on racism.
However, SiriusXM radio host Gabe Ikard reported that most of the Sooners team wanted Gundy to stay, but he chose to resign.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon released a lengthy statement late Sunday defending Gundy. Mixon played under Gundy's tutelage when he was a running back at Oklahoma.
"If not for Coach Gundy I would not have attended OU, survived at OU, stayed at OU, and succeeded in life after OU. I owe my education and professional career to him and most importantly I owe who I am as a person to him," Mixon said.
"Most importantly Coach Gundy is not, and I repeat is not a racist in any way nor has a racist bone in his body, mind, or soul," the NFL star added. "I know racists, I have witnessed both obvious and discreet types of racism and have known and detested even more actual racist. Coach Gundy is the farthest thing from this type of person."
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Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News