Oklahoma State Football Bracing for Apparent Sports Illustrated Expose
Oklahoma State didn't have any problems putting away UT-San Antonio Saturday afternoon. Quarterback J.W. Walsh had more touchdown passes (four) than incompletions (three) in a 56-35 win over the Roadrunners.
However, that's all been overshadowed by another story involving the Cowboys—one apparently far less flattering.
Per multiple media outlets, including The Oklahoman and Tulsa World, Oklahoma State is the center of an upcoming series from Sports Illustrated that will reportedly cast a not-so-positive light on the program.
The feature has reportedly been in the works for over a year.
Exactly what's contained in the piece isn't known for sure, but The Oklahoman reports it will contain the following allegations dating back to the Les Miles head coaching regime, beginning in 2001.
* Coaches and boosters paying athletes, including violations ranging from paying for jobs not performed, overpaying for jobs and strictly paying players for performance.
Former assistant coach Joe DeForest is accused of running a bonus program – paying players for specific plays – as recently as 2011.
DeForest, who spent 11 seasons at OSU, is in his second year as an assistant coach at West Virginia. Saturday, he denied the charges.
* A environment of academic impropriety, from players not attending class to grade changing to tutors doing work for players.
* Widespread drug abuse and a drug policy that isn’t uniformly administered.
* Hostesses in the Orange Pride program providing sex to recruits.
Per Oklahoma State athletics, neither OSU coach Mike Gundy nor any current players were interviewed for the series, and there are no eligibility or NCAA concerns for current staff or players.
DeForest is the current associate head coach at West Virginia. WVU athletic director Oliver Luck says the school is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations against DeForest.
"West Virginia University is aware of an upcoming investigative reporting series in Sports Illustrated which - while focused on another institution -includes allegations against one of our current assistant football coaches regarding his time of employment at his previous Institution," Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Oliver Luck said. "Upon learning of the pending investigative report, WVU launched an internal review to ensure the coach's full compliance to NCAA rules while at West Virginia. The NCAA has also been contacted. While our assistant football coach has denied the allegations, it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here."
In response to the allegations, OSU president Burns Hargis issued the following statement:
“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action. We do not condone or tolerate improper conduct in our athletic programs. OSU requires everyone affiliated with the university to follow the rules and adhere to the highest ethical standards.”
Additionally, OSU athletic director Mike Holder issued the following statement:
“We are shocked by the allegations raised about our football program. We take the allegations seriously. Whether they have merit or not, we don’t know. But we will find out.
“Our athletic department understands the high expectations OSU president Burns Hargis and the OSU board of regents have set for us. Our coaches and staff understand we will not tolerate any violations that compromise our pursuit of excellence, the highest of ethical standards, and full compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.
“We are committed to playing by the rules on and off the field. We strive to be a source of pride for our fans, our university and the Big 12 Conference.”
OSU has notified the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference of the upcoming piece, which is reportedly scheduled to be begin publishing some time this week. The school is apparently bringing in an outside investigator to ensure the current program is NCAA compliant.
It's tough to know what the fall out will be. From early accounts, there are no major NCAA infractions involving current staff or players. Does that mean OSU is or isn't in the clear with the NCAA? Tough to tell.
We'll find out soon enough, though.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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