Part two of Sports Illustrated five part investigation into alleged misconduct by Oklahoma State University claims OSU personnel completed coursework for players and professors giving passing grades for little or no work, all to keep players eligible.
On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated reported that 13 Cowboys who played between 2000 and '11 say that they participated in some form of academic misconduct; another 16 were named by teammates as having schoolwork done for them. Players were also clustered into online classes.
"The goal was not to educate but to get [the best players] the passing grades they needed to keep playing," said Fath' Carter, who played at OSU from 2000 to '03, reportedly told the magazine.
SI claims Les Miles mantra when he started his four years in Stillwater was "Academics first, Football second" but when he would say it he held up two fingers when he said academics and one finger when he said football.
Doug Bond, an offensive lineman from 2002-2004 told Sports Illustrated "You heard his words but you saw what he was doing. So the thought process was that you're going to school just so you can play football."
Miles told SI that he always meant academics first and admitted to doing that gesture once in a moment of humor.
The players Sports Illustrated talked to claim they had coursework completed by tutors or university staff members and they were provided answers to exams before the test. SI also reports they received passing grades despite doing little or no work.
Fath' Carter, a safety from 2000 to '03 told SI "The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing. That's the only thing it was about."
SI reports four players and two former assistants told them they had teammates who they believed were functionally illiterate after attending Oklahoma State for multiple years.
In 2008, Dez Bryant was named second-team academic All-Big 12 but one player, Victor Johnson a Cowboys safety from 2008-2010, said him being honored for his academics was a joke.
"You didn't have no choice but to laugh at it," Johnson told SI.
Johnson and a former assistant coach told SI that Bryant would only go to class when a staff member shepherded him there and the tutors did the majority of his work.
Bryant, a wide receiver with the Dallas Cowboys, denied he had any work done for him and did not give SI any other comments.
SI reports Carter, wide receiver William Cole, (2007-2008), cornerback Calvin Mickens (2005-2007), Mickens, defensive tackle Larry Brown (2005-2006), offensive lineman Jonathan Cruz (2002), linebacker LeRon Furr (2009-2010), defensive tackle Brad Girtman (2003-2004), safety Chris Massey (1999-2002) defensive end T.J. Minor (2005-2006), linebacker Marcus Richardson (2007), running back Herschel Sims (2011), wide receiver Artrell Woods (2006-2008) and defensive back Thomas Wright (2002-2004) all said they had work done for them and/or they received improper academic assistance while at Oklahoma State.
They also named several other players including running back Tatum Bell (2000-2003), wide receiver Prentiss Elliott (2004), quarterback Josh Fields (2001-2003), safety Vernon Grant (2002-2004), cornerback Darrent Williams (2001-2004) and defensive end Kevin Williams (1998-2002).
Williams and Grant are deceased. Bell, Elliott, Fields and Kevin Williams denied to Sports Illustrated that they ever had work done for them while at OSU.
Some players told SI they had nearly all of their coursework completed for them. Girtman reported "Are you kidding me? I didn't go there to go to school," says Girtman. "I went there to play football."
Woods, a wide receiver from 2006-2008, said he didn't write a "single paper" while in Stillwater.
Cruz told SI he would write the paper but what he turned in wasn't his work.
"I would write them, and they would take them and just completely change everything about it because it was just so awful. I never really learned how to write a paper, but I had to pull a B in Comp I, and I pulled my B in Comp I."
But it wasn't just tutors. According to Carter, he met Ronald Keys, an assist professor assigned to the library. SI reports Carter said he and other players would drop their assignments off and return later to pick up the work. He said he did this all four years he was on campus.
Keys left OSU in 2005 and is now the interim assistant director of the library at Texas Southern. SI reports he said he never did work for athletes but sometimes helped with reference questions.
Sports Illustrated also brings up Terry Henley, an academic adviser for football since 2000, was hired before Miles took over and a year before he finished his master's degree in human relations from Oklahoma. Despite never having worked in the academic field, SI reports he was immediately assigned to the football program.
SI says three other Division I universities told them they would never hire someone for that position without academic advising experience. SI also brings into dispute his résumé: he was a defensive back at Oklahoma State from 1988 to 1993 and was a teammate of Gundy's. Only six programs in all of the BCS conferences have a former player as a team's primary academic counselor.
The school has not yet commented on the allegations but on Monday during the regularly scheduled football press conference, coach Mike Gundy and Athletic Director Mike Holder addressed the story.
Sports Illustrated will continue with the remaining parts of the investigation in the next few days. According to the magazine, they'll cover drugs, sex, and what happened to the players who were tossed aside.
Read a preview:
Part 3: Drugs (On SI.com Thursday, 9/12): OSU tolerated and at times enabled recreational drug use, primarily through a specious counseling program that allowed some players to continue to use drugs while avoiding penalties. The school's drug policy was selectively enforced, with some stars going unpunished despite repeated positive tests.
Part 4: Sex (On SI.com Friday, 9/13): OSU's hostess program, Orange Pride, figured so prominently in the recruitment of prospects that the group more than tripled in size under Miles. Both Miles and Gundy took the unusual step of personally interviewing candidates. Multiple former players and Orange Pride members say that a small subset of the group had sex with recruits, a violation of NCAA rules.
Part 5: The Fallout (On SI.com Tuesday, 9/17, and in the 9/23/13 SI issue): SI finds that many players who were no longer useful to the football program were cast aside, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse and a few have attempted suicide.