UPDATE: 5:00 p.m. 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.”
Statement from OSU President Burns Hargis
UPDATE: 11 a.m. In Sports Illustrated’s first report in their five-part series, authors George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans allege financial misconduct on the part of OSU boosters and others involved and employed in the football program.
T. Boone Pickens, the university’s most prominent booster, was not implicated in any of the alleged misconduct.
The article states various former players talked with SI about money they received either from boosters or coaches for a number of reasons; however no matter the reason, all funds were in violation of NCAA rules.
“In separate interviews seven other former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments; 29 other OSU players were named by teammates as having also taken money. Those payments, which stretched from 2001 to at least ‘11, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs – including work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium – that involved at least one assistant coach and several boosters.”
According to the article, not all players were rewarded.
However the ones who were claimed sums in the thousands per year.
“Some players received $2,000 annually and others around $10,000, multiple players told SI; a few stars allegedly received $25,000 or more.”
In SI’s write up, former players talked of envelopes and socks stuffed with cash.
They also spoke about being “hired” by university supporters to perform odd jobs around their homes, like lawn mowing, heavy lifting, working as a ranch hand, even getting paid to fish… and the players said they got to keep the fish they caught.
All jobs the former players claimed they were either “grossly overpaid” for or others “compensated them for jobs they didn’t do.”
SI’s article ends saying, according to the former athletes they interviewed, the extra money wasn’t spent on extravagances, it was used to buy everyday items like food, clothing and possibly movie tickets.
UPDATE 8 a.m. – The rest of the series will be released throughout this week and next.
Sports Illustrated admits that none of the current coaches or players are involved in any of the allegations.
Questions are being raised about one of the reporters behind the sports illustrated article, Thayer Evans who has been known to be extremely critical of OSU in the past, even referring to the university as “chokie-state.”
We reached out to him for comment but haven’t heard back.
STILLWATER, Okla. – “The Dirty Game,” is an investigative report looking into how the OSU football program went from a struggling to a big player on the national scene.
SI says that they spent 10-months investigation that included independent and on-the-record interviews with former OSU football payers from 2001 – 2010.
The interviews also included current and former OSU staff members.
Part 1 of the series is called “Money.” OSU had 11 losing seasons in 12 years. Since 2002, OSU has enjoyed 10 winning seasons, earned a Big 12 title and appeared in their first BCS bowl.
The report alleges that OSU used extreme measures to build a winning program.
SI says they cut corners and bent rules to achieve their goals.
SI says the improprieties began under former coach Les Miles, who coached from 2001 to 2004.
He is now the head coach at Louisiana State University.
They say the transgressions continued under head coach Mike Gundy who started in 2005.
“We wanted to take a comprehensive look at a big-time program, particularly one that made a rapid ascent,” SI said. “There’s obviously a steady drumbeat of scandal in college sports – improper benefits here; a recruiting violation there – and plenty of rumor and hearsay about the unseemly underbelly. For this piece, we were more about venturing inside the factory and seeing how the sausage is made.”
SI says it will feature videos of former Cowboys talking about their experiences in Stillwater.
Part 1: “Money” (On SI.com Tuesday, 9/10 and in the 9/16/13 SI issue) SI finds that OSU used a bonus system orchestrated by an assistant coach whereby players were paid for their performance on the field, with some stars collecting $500 or more per game. In addition, the report finds that OSU boosters and at least two assistant coaches funneled money to players via direct payments and a system of no-show and sham jobs. Some players say they collected more than $10,000 annually in under-the-table payouts.
Part 2: “Academics” (On SI.com Wednesday, 9/11) SI claims there was 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) SI says that 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, SI claims, 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.
Part 5: “The Fallout” (On SI.com Tuesday, 9/17, and in the 9/23/13 SI issue) is where 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.
Details from a Sports Illustrated press release.
News Channel 4 reported on OSU officials and players and their reaction to these allegations. That report can be seen here.
Coach Mike Gundy says he is focusing on the next game and not the SI report. See Gundy’s remarks here.