Multiple Twitter reports Tuesday night indicated that University of Oklahoma president David Boren will announce his retirement soon, possibly as early as Wednesday morning, but numerous other reports contradicted those, saying Boren would not be stepping down just yet.
One university source told The Franchise that “perhaps” a press conference might take place on Wednesday, while another OU source said he heard the rumors and said they were false.
In a text message to The Franchise on Tuesday night, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said, “… no idea where these rumors are starting.”
In a report published by the Norman Transcript, OU senior associate vice president for public affairs Rowdy Gilbert said the reports that Boren was stepping down were “inaccurate.”
BREAKING: Sources confirm that OU president David Boren is set to retire tomorrow. Presser in afternoon. @TFB_Sooners
— Brandon Drumm (@BrandonTFB) September 20, 2017
BREAKING: According to sources, OU President David Boren to step down tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/zb8iL8cSfx
— Barstool Sooners (@OUBarstool) September 20, 2017
JUST IN: OU President David Boren’s Press Secretary Matt Epting says reports of Boren retiring tomorrow are inaccurate. #Sooners
— Porsha Richardson (@PorshaRichh) September 20, 2017
Boren, 76, has been the driving force behind a renaissance of both athletics and academics at OU, including numerous capital gains fundraising projects that transformed the campus and reformed the football program.
After growing up in Seminole, Boren graduated from Yale in 1963 and received a law degree from OU in 1968 before beginning a distinguished career in politics, including four years as Oklahoma’s governor from 1974-78 and 15 years in the United States Senate from 1979-94.
But Sooner Nation will always be indebted to his contributions to the university, to which he returned in 1994 as the school’s 13 president.
With OU’s finances deep in the red and a once-mighty football program mired in five years of mediocrity, Boren initiated a $200 million fundraising campaign that ultimately brought in more than $500 million.
Boren hired athletic director Joe Castiglione in April 1998, and following the 1998 football season, Castiglione fired coach John Blake and hired Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops.
Stoops immediately resurrected the program, following three losing seasons under Blake with a 7-5 record in 1999 and the school’s first 13-0 record and seventh national championship in 2000.
That immediate success paid dividends for the coming generation and beyond. Stoops, who retired unexpectedly in June, won 190 games and 10 Big 12 Conference championships, but also presided over four major renovations to Memorial Stadium and its ancillary facilities, including a $160 million project that resulted in a new locker room, coaches offices and other areas beneath the newly bowled in south end zone.
According to the 2017 OU football media guide, the school has received more than $2 billion in private donations during Boren’s tenure.
Oklahoma is the only school in the Big 12 Conference to have the same president during the league’s entire 21-year history.
Boren also has been at the forefront throughout the league’s tumultuous realignment era, telling reporters that Oklahoma wouldn’t be a “wallflower” during the early process that left OU and other schools within an eyelash of joining the Pac-12 Conference, and later telling reporters that the league was “psychologically disadvantaged” to have just 10 members.
As chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors in 2016-17, Boren spearheaded the league’s efforts to expand beyond its current membership — an effort that included video presentations from 17 hopeful schools, after which the Big 12 announced it would not expand and was widely panned for its continuing comical administrative misadventures.
Boren had heart surgery in March but quickly returned to work two weeks later.
On Saturday, he was seen sitting on the OU bench during the Sooners’ 56-14 victory over Tulane.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.