Cochell resigned Sunday for using racial remarks

Updated: May 3, 2005, 11:07 AM ET
Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. -- Former Oklahoma baseball coach Larry Cochell, who resigned for using a racial slur while praising a black player, is scheduled to undergo heart surgery.

Cochell, 65, said he is learning all he can about the procedure that will be necessary to reduce a 70- to 80-percent blockage in one coronary artery and a 60-percent blockage in another.

The blockages were discovered in a procedure Monday morning that had been scheduled long before Cochell, who is a cancer survivor, resigned Sunday because of his remarks.

Cochell said his plan is to have the surgery as soon as possible.

" ... I'm a fighter," Cochell said. "What else can I be?

"It's just another hurdle in your life," he continued. "I trust God, and my faith pulls me through all things life puts in front of me."

Last Tuesday, before the telecast of the Oklahoma-Wichita State game on ESPN2 and ESPNU, Cochell used a racially insensitive term in off-camera interviews with ESPN to describe Sooners freshman outfielder Joe Dunigan III, an African-American.

Cochell was speaking with play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne when he called Dunigan over to praise him for staying in school. When the freshman returned to the field, Cochell told Thorne, "There's no n----- in him." The network informed the school that Cochell used similar language in an interview with ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson.

"I just felt like [resigning] was the right thing to do," Cochell told The Oklahoman newspaper. "I don't know why I said it. I have never in my life used that kind of language. It was a phrase I heard a long time ago, and it just came out."

The interviews were not taped, and Thorne and Peterson didn't know Cochell had used similar language in both instances until they spoke with each other days later, ESPN director of media relations Josh Krulewitz said.

Cochell submitted a letter of resignation to university president David Boren, who had met hours before with athletic director Joe Castiglione and members of the university's black community on the matter.

Boren accepted the letter and said Castiglione has designated Sunny Golloway as interim baseball coach for the remainder of the season.

"A good and caring man has made a terrible mistake for which he must assume responsibility," Boren said in a statement.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE