ARLINGTON, Texas — The Oklahoma State entourage inside AT&T Stadium on Thursday morning included one important person.
Dr. Kayse Shrum, the new school president, showed her support for the OSU football team during Big 12 Media Days. She also had a planned introductory meeting with Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on her schedule.
“It’s very exciting. This is the first experience for me. Being here with Coach (Mike) Gundy, the players and (athletic director) Chad Weiberg is great,” said Shrum, who began her official duties on July 1. “Having the opportunity to be supportive of athletics and the football program makes it real exciting to be here.”
The OSU President took time for a one-on-one interview with the Tulsa World. Topics included the former college softball pitcher’s passion for sports, the anticipation for the OSU football season and the need for normalcy to return to campus, with vaccinations being a key element.
How exciting is it to take part at Big 12 Media Days?
“It’s very exciting. This is the first experience for me. Being here with Coach (Mike) Gundy, the players and (athletic director) Chad Weiberg is great. Having the opportunity to be supportive of athletics and the football program makes it real exciting to be here.”
How big of a sports fan are you?
“I’m a big sports fan. I played softball in college. My husband played football. We enjoyed all sports. One of our sons plays soccer in college. So we have a wide array of the love of the game. We really are enjoying that aspect of being able to engage with the student-athletes and our coaches.”
How big of a football fan are you and how excited are you for the season with Coach Gundy?
“I am a big football fan. We’ve always gone to all the home games. We’re real excited. I’m excited about the season and what they are going to accomplish this year, as well as getting to know Coach Gundy.”
What’s it been like building that relationship with Coach Gundy?
“It’s been great. We met briefly at the spring game and had the opportunity just to talk. He’s been busy and obviously with me, not quite in the job yet, I’ve been busy. We’ve had the opportunity to visit since. I’m here today and so we’re going to spend a little bit more time. But it’s been great.”
What’s it like for your history with the passion for OSU football on Saturdays?
“Football days are very exciting and a lot of fun with all of the traditions like tailgating and the team. Like I said, we go to all the home games and I’m sure we’ll go to even more away games now that I’m in this job. We really enjoy just supporting the players and being there and rooting on the Cowboys.”
How important is having full capacity at games for the community and the sport this fall?
“It is very important for the team. It’s important for athletics to have those stadiums full. That was really challenging last year. But I think people really missed out on coming together as the Cowboy family and celebrating football the way that we always have. Part of that is getting as many people (in the stadium) as we can. Of course, I’m a physician. Get vaccinated so we can make sure that we fill up those stadiums and be there to support the Cowboys as they play this season.”
How important are vaccinations in that return to normalcy?
“I think vaccines are very important. That’s the one thing that we have that we know is protective. I got mine very early. I was one of the first people to get it when it was available to me. I just encourage everybody to do that. The more we have vaccinated, that’s the assurance that we’re going to continue to be doing what we like to do in Oklahoma.
“Of course, it is by choice. I always encourage people, if you are questioning it, go find that trusted healthcare professional that knows you and knows about your health needs and visit with them about it.”
What is your message to the general student population coming back to Stillwater this fall, especially after missing the typical student life that was missed last year?
“I think that was really challenging. I can only imagine being a freshman coming to campus. At least those who had previously experienced college life, they knew what it was like and had that friend group. I think that was really challenging for those students to come in and not be able to interact socially the way we normally do. I would encourage them again to, again, get a vaccine. If you don’t do that, wear a mask.
“We all want to have them have the best experience on campus that they possibly can, both in the classroom and outside the classroom and being able to experience those things that we love – homecoming and walk around and all those things that are great. That’s what I really encourage everyone to do. Everybody has a unique health history. Just take that personal responsibility to go visit with your healthcare provider and decide if that’s right for you. As I’ve said, the CDC is encouraging everybody to do that and that’s what we hope happens.”
There’s a new era at OSU with Chad Weiberg in his new position at athletics director. What are your expectations with Chad taking that role?
“Last year I really had the opportunity to start to get to know Chad as I served as the chair of the committee that put together the testing protocols for athletics. I had the opportunity to get to know Chad and visit with him. Having him on my team as athletic director is great. I always like to have people around me that I say are smart, work hard, great ethics and share those values and are passionate about Oklahoma State University.
“So far everyone that I’ve met in athletics meets that criteria. Chad is a great example of that. That’s what you want in an athletic director – someone who sets that standard. I’ve been very pleased with Chad, Coach Gundy, all the coaches that I’ve had the opportunity to visit with.”