Sports Illustrated's investigation into Oklahoma State is unveiled
Sports Illustrated has released part one of its investigation into alleged misconduct by Oklahoma State University.
Part one was unveiled at 8:00 AM on Tuesday morning on SI.com and was titled "Money"
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.
Holder isued this statement Tuesday amid claims that he apologized for the school's actions before he knew the charges:
"In Monday's news conference, I apologized to our fans and mentioned phone calls I had made to other Big 12 athletic directors prior to the release of the first article from Sports Illustrated. To clarify, my apology was in regards to the negative publicity that was coming our way. My apology was in no way an admission of wrong doing by OSU Athletics."
- OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder
The first player to be featured by the magazine is Calvin Mickens. He told SI as a freshman in 2005 he was handed $200 in the Oklahoma State locker room after OSU beat Montana State. In the game, he forced a fumble, broke up a pass, and made two tackles, but that wasn't the end of it. After losing 62-23 to Texas A&M, a game in which he had an interception, he told SI he was given $800 by another man.
Seven other Cowboys admitted to SI that they were given money and claimed 29 OSU players were also taking payments between 2001 and 2011.
The cash was allegedly given to them in three ways: performance based which was managed by an assistant coach, direct payments from boosters and coaches not dependent on performance, and "no-show and sham jobs" which SI claims included work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium that involved one assistant coach and several boosters.
Not every OSU player was rewarded. According to SI, between 15 and 20 players received money under the table in any year. The number given ranges from $2,000 to $10,000 per year with some stars receiving $25,000 or more.
After a 2003 game against Kansas State, cornerback Darrent Williams keyed a 38-34 win with a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown. After the game, defensive tackle Brad Girtman says he saw Williams receive an envelope packed with bills.
"I was like, Holy s---." Girtman says at that point, the most he had ever received was $500 from a member of the football staff.
How players were paid
SI reports several players told them players were paid in different ways. Some got bonus money in their per diem envelopes (this is typically $15 on a home game), others had an envelope with money waiting for them in their locker the day after the game, and if a new pair of socks was in a player's locker after the game, the cash was likely hidden in them.
The amount paid wasn't consistent. Girtman said QB hurries were valued at $50, a tackle was worth $75-$100, and a sack got them between $200 and $250.
Girtman said those rates were relayed to him by Joe DeForest, who coached special teams and secondary under Les Miles from 2001 to 2004 and was the associate head coach, special teams coordinator, and safeties coach under Mike Gundy from 2005-2011.
DeForest is now the associate head coach and special teams coordinator at West Virginia. He told Sports Illustrated "I have never paid a player for on-field performance. I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity."
How the payments started
Sports Illustrated says former coach Bob Simmons wouldn't allow boosters in the locker room while he was there was coaching from 1995-2000. But once Les Miles took over, that all changed.
The boosters were allegedly most visible after a big win. The biggest of which was the 16-13 2001 upset of No. 4 Oklahoma, which prevented OU from getting to the BCS title game. Fath' Carter, a safety from 2000-2003, says boosters approached players and gave $500 handshakes following the win.
Miles denied the allegations to SI, saying he gave boosters less access the program, not more.
But the payments weren't just made in the locker rooms. Multiple players told SI that boosters would walk down the aisle of the team plane or bus and hand out cash-filled envelopes. Carter says boosters would also give them $100 as they walked from the Student Union to the stadium on game days.
SI says after Miles took over, the boosters got to players before they even arrived on campus.
Running back Seymore Shaw committed to Oklahoma State in 2001 and said as a Senior at Shawnee High School, a booster gave him between $400 to $500.
Girtman committed in January 2003 and claims DeForest gave him a list of boosters and their phone numbers. He said DeForest then pointed to one name and said "If you need anything, call this guy."
Girtman said he never called him but when he arrived in Stillwater in 2003, he said DeForest handed him a debit card with $5,000 on it which would be periodically refilled.
In his first season, Shaw said he went to Miles and told him he needed a car to get to classes. He said Miles introduced him to Kay Norris, an OSU graduate affectionately called Momma Norris. Shaw said Norris gave him $400 to take a Christmas tree out of her attic and other times would pay him $700 to clean floorboards of rental houses even though Shaw says he would only be there for an hour.
Norris died of lung cancer in 2006.
Carter, Girtman, Rodrick Johnson and Thomas Wright all say another supporter exceeded her payments. John Talley, an area director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, grossly overpaid them for jobs they did. Girtman says he paid him $1,500 to $2,000 every two weeks to work on his horse ranch during one summer.
The players also claim Talley would set up speaking gigs for players and pay them $100 for a 15 or 20 minute talk.
QB Aso Pogi played from 1999 to 2002 and claims he and another player lived on Talley's ranch one summer rent-free.
Talley confirmed with SI that Pogi lived there but had to work to cover his rent. Pogi, though, denies he did any work. Talley also admitted to paying players for speaking engagements and paying them for work on his ranch but he said he cleared them both with the university' compliance office.
"I have paid lots of players to work on my ranch," Talley says. "But I would never pay someone not to work."
OSU's compliance director Kevin Fite disputes the claims about the speaking engagements, saying they were never cleared through the office and two of Fite's staff members told him he could pay students for working for him but could not pay for speaking engagements.
But Talley wasn't alone.
Ricky Coxeff, a cornerback in 2003 and '04, says that he worked in a female booster's yard six times one summer and received $100-$200 each time for "barely doing anything".
William Bell, a redshirt defensive end in 2004, says a member of the coaching staff directed him to a booster who needed work done. They said their "job" was to fish for catfish on a pond. Bell said he was paid a couple hundred dollars to "sit and fish."
While some standout players could afford a car or jewelry, SI says the vast majority used the cash to buy everyday items: food, clothes, movie tickets, etc.
"There were some athletes who were almost starving," says Carter. "Wherever the money came from, they were like, Yeah, I'll take that."
Sports Illustrated will continue with the other four parts of the investigation in the next few days. According to the magazine, they'll cover academic misconduct, drugs, sex, and what happened to the players who were tossed aside.
Read a preview:
Part 2: Academics (On SI.com Wednesday, 9/11): Widespread academic misconduct, which included tutors and other OSU personnel completing coursework for players, and professors giving passing grades for little or no work, all in the interest of keeping top players eligible.
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.