Support for embattled Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer continued to grow Wednesday as two past Heisman Trophy winners called a news conference to voice their support for their former coach and a newspaper carried the names of more than 900 people favoring the current athletic department personnel.
Calls for Switzer's resignation had intensified after the arrest of starting quarterback Charles Thompson on a charge of selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent. Three players also have been charged with rape and a player was charged in January with the shooting and wounding of a teammate during an argument in the athletic dormitory.On Monday, the 1949 Oklahoma team said it would not have its 40th reunion this year in Norman and joined the state's three largest newspapers in calling for Switzer's resignation.
But Steve Owens and Billy Sims, two of Oklahoma's three Heisman Trophy winners, scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon to defend Switzer and other athletic department officials.
Owens and Sims are co-chairmen for the Committee in Support of the Leadership of the Athletic Program at the University of Oklahoma.
A two-page "We Support The Sooners" ad being run in The Norman Transcript's afternoon edition today bears the names of more than 900 people who support Switzer, Athletic Director Donnie Duncan and interim president David Swank.
"We believe the administrative officers of the University of Oklahoma and the director of athletics and his staff are now providing the leadership in establishing procedures that will minimize the possibility of problems in the future," the ad reads.
Owens' name is the first on the list.
One state weekly newspaper also is taking up for the embattled coach.
The Fort Gibson Times has an editorial in this week's paper, released today, headlined "Forget Barry, Let's Get the OU Librarian."