In 2015, David Barton claimed that he was a part of the Oral Roberts University NCAA Division One basketball teams which set national scoring records in the 1970s. He has never publicly addressed the fact that ORU’s athletic department and the team trainer at the time contradicted his story and said he was not on the team. Today, on his Wallbuilders Live show, he again implied he was a part of the basketball team and made additional claims about the drug culture in the sports programs at ORU. Listen:
At 17 seconds into the clip above, Barton talks about the sports programs and then slams ORU’s program at the time. He seems to refer to his earlier comments (“In basketball, talking before with the team there and what we did, and we made it to the Elite Eight in the tournament”) and then says that the character of the players was so bad that when he outed some things happening on the team, he was subjected to death threats. He said the basketball team was where “the drug culture was” and was “really promiscuous” and where “a lot illegal stuff” happened. Because he outed these things, Barton said, he received threats and had to be accompanied to class by a police presence.
I called Blake Freeland, media relations director for ORU basketball and asked him about these claims. He said he was familiar with the ORU records from that era and could not confirm any of the claims. He could not completely deny the claim because it is possible that some misbehavior was handled discretely. However, Freeland told me there were no suspensions or other disciplinary actions in the school records and he doubted that it was true.
Furthermore, I reviewed newspaper data bases for the period and found no media accounts of suspensions or other actions which one might expect if police had to escort a student to classes due to death threats on campus. ORU’s basketball program was suspended for one year in 1980 but this was for unauthorized cash payments and dealings involving the coaches and players.
I also contacted Glenn “Smitty” Smith, beloved athletic trainer who came to ORU in 1972 (the same year Barton began his schooling there). I described Barton’s claims to Mr. Smith and in an email reply told me:
Totally untrue… I did the drug testing since 1972 and no one failed as this guy claims!!!
It is beyond me why Barton would tell an unnecessary story which puts his alma mater and the basketball players in a bad light.
This segment raises again the 2015 questions about why ORU denies David Barton’s claims to have played Division One basketball for the school and why Barton hasn’t provided an explanation for the discrepancy. Now, without evidence, he has added to the story in contradiction to the ORU athletic department.