Mike Holder Press Conference

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the "mutually agreed" new direction of the Cowboy basketball program with Sean Sutton stepping down as head coach. Holder called it one of his most difficult decisions and a tough day for all Cowboys. He took nearly 20 minutes of questions from the media. Here are some of those questions and Holder's answers.

Bob Barry Jr. (KFOR-TV): It (the job) came down to wins and losses?
Holder: I said I think he was a victim of the success of his father and the success that they fostered. You know whether it is right or wrong we have high expectations for our basketball program and three straight trips to the NIT and loss in the first round, we really feel like we want to play in the NCAA Tournament and play in the big dance.

Unknown: Is that the expectation to get into the NCAA and compete for the Big 12 every year?
Holder: Who is to say what the basic expectation is. I'm just saying we felt we could do better and hopefully we will do better. Only time will tell, but we felt like this was the best decision in going forward. Nobody can look into the future, nobody has a crystal ball, but I felt this was the best decision.

Dean Blevins (KWTV): Mike, what is mutually agreed because Sean was fighting for his job. How do you come out mutually agreeing to move in that direction?
Holder: Well, I think that we both came to the realization that for whatever reason it wasn't working and what is the best way to part company and try to have as close to a win/win for both sides as you can and that is the strategy that we came up with. I feel good about it and, like I said, I'm up here to make the best of a bad situation is what it amounts to.

Robert Allen: As a successful coach yourself, what areas in evaluating Sean can you comment on, that you felt he fell short of in this capacity in this job?
Holder: I think that is between Sean Sutton and I, as with any coach on our staff. I am not a micro manager. I am not going to come in and tell a coach how to run his program. I didn't want that from an athletic director when I was privaledged to coach her and I would expect the samething since I am an athletic director now. I am sensitive about that for coaches. If they come to me for advice, I'm willing to give my input, but I do not profess to be a basketball coach, a football coach, a track coach. There are similarities between every coaching position. It's about people, managing people, recruiting people, getting young people to buy into a dream and work hard together as a team. I think all those are similar, but it is up to the coach here, everyone of them working at Oklahoma State University to manage their own program and be the captain of their ship and the master of their fate. I put a lot of faith and confidence in our coaches to do their job.

Mark Rodgers (KOCO-TV): Why did you wait three weeks to meet with Sean?
Holder: I liken this to an aircraft carrier, you have a lot of people involved. It's a tough decision and you had to wait until the season was over to see the whole body of work and then evaluate where we were and then get a lot of people on board. That is not going to happen overnight. As I said, you have a lot of people. You have a President, a Board of Regents, an athletic director. Athletic directors don't just jump out there and make decisions like this. Would I have preferred that it happen sooner for everyone involved, absolutely. It is what it is and it took as long as it did for whatever reason and we are here today because of that.

Rodgers:The expectation level is to go to the NCAA Tournament, if this team would have won a few more games in Kansas City (Big 12 Tournament) might the fate have been different yesterday?
Holder: I don't know. I'm not dealing with that set of circumstances, I'm dealing with what actually happened. No reason to speculate on that or any other myriad of issues out there.

Allen: Have you or Sean, or the combination of both of you, had a chance to speak to the squad?
Holder: Yes sir.

Allen: Can you give us any kind of indication of how that went?
Holder: I gave Sean an opportunity to address them on his own. I felt he deserved that privilege or that right. I wasn't there or wasn't present. I don't know what he said to them. I'm sure it was emotional. I wanted to address them as the athletic director and let them know they are why I am here. I'm here to work for the athletes everyday. That is what gets me up every morning with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I wanted them to know that tough day, but we'll get through it and we hope to bring someone in here that can take us back to the big dance.

Blevins: Mike, there will be a lot of talk about the fairness issue of this having been only two years into what was a five year contract. Your thoughts on that and in going out and hiring a coach, do you think that will be a negative?
Holder: I don't think that will be a negative. I think this is a great job and I think that is due in part to the Sutton family. They have built it into a great job. It is a great job because of the winning tradition. We've won two national championships under Mr. Iba and we've been to two Final Fours in the last 10 years and we have arguably one of the finest basketball arenas in America. We have a great fan base, wonderful community to live in, so I think there are great positives here for people interested in coming in here and accepting the challenge. Like I said there is pressure in every coaching job. What you'd like to have is the resources to be successful. That is what we lacked in football for a lot of years and we're putting the resources in there now. Since Coach (Eddie) Sutton has been here we've supported our basketball program and we plan on continuing that in the future. As far as being fair, life is not fair. Athletics isn't fair, the best team doesn't always win. It is what it is. At the end of the day I had to feel it was the right decision and I do.

John Holcomb (KOTV-TV): In a perfect world how soon would you like to have a coach in place?
Holder: Well you know as soon as possible, but like I said we haven't done anything so I don't know what is realistic. I'd just soon not hire a coach through the press. I don't think that is the way to do it. We'll try to evaluate what prospects are out there and who is interested, but there is no need to do that right now because we haven't done anything. This moment is about Sean Sutton and the contributions that he and his family made here and I don't want to detract from that.

Barry: Is it fair to say that this decision was made long ago even before you met with Sean in your mind you were going to make a change unless something drastic had changed in the basketball program?
Holder: No, that's not right. I went back and forth for a long time, lot of sleepless nights. No one ever told me when I became athletic director that it was going to be this tough. It has been a trying period of time for me.

Jimmie Tramel (Tulsa World): Just two years into it, you didn't think things could get better under Sean?
Holder: Anything is possible Jimmie. Never say never, but I just felt like that our prospects were better to make a change. At the end of day, even though he wanted to be the coach, I think Sean agreed with me. Try something else, he's a Cowboy, he wants OSU basketball to be successful and so does his father. They want the best for this institution. And what I'll say to our fans is we are all Cowboys at the end of the day. I've got a book on the coffee table in my office called 'Cowboy Ethics.' I like to read that. It's a big deal for us to be Cowboys and there is a lot of grit, determination, and ethics in being a Cowboy. One of the great phrases in there, one of the principles is, 'Cowboys ride for the brand.' That means you saddle up and you do your job everyday and you ride for the brand on the cattle or whatever those horses you represent and we just all happen to be Cowboys riding for the OSU brand. I think with our fan base some of the people won't be happy about this, they won't understand this, they won't agree with it. I expect that, but at the end of the day we have to saddle up and get behind it because it is about the future of the program. It's about OSU.

Blevins: How much did empty seats play a role?
Holder: You're troubled by that. There were a lot of empty seats before Eddie Sutton showed up back in Stillwater.

Curtis Fitzpatrick (Cox): Mike, you mentioned Eddie several times, did you talk to him?
Holder: Did I talk to him, today? No, the other day Sean has to stand on his own two feet on this one.

Unknown: Will you form a search committee?
Holder: I will consult with our President Burns Hargis and the two of us and the Board of Regents will make a decision on how we'd like to proceed. We haven't talked about that yet. We are just trying to get through today.

Allen: I had a conversation a couple of days ago with MIke Candrea (Olympic and Arizona softball coach). He mentioned you had talked to him extensively when you had a softball opening. Is that a strategy for you to talk to the top coach in the game and pick his brain on candidates?
Holder: Sounds like a good strategy to me. I always felt that right or wrong and I hate to keep going back to golf but I spent a lot of my years there. At the end of the day I felt like I knew who the really good coaches were in the business, the ones that I didn't like to compete against and were a real challenge for me and the young, up and coming coaches. I took it as a compliment when people called and asked my opinion on who were some good candidates to hire. I would think it would be the same in basketball, coaching is a fraternity at the end of the day. we all care about one another even though we compete. We just want the best candidate, whoever he is.

GoPokes Top Stories