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Man accused of paying OSU players for work they didn’t do speaks out

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STILLWATER, Okla. - "The Dirty Game" was a series of articles alleging misconduct in Oklahoma State's football program.

Last month, the NCAA and an investigator hired by the university announced their findings of an investigation into the allegations.

They called the allegations in the articles "fundamentally unfounded."

While the articles were controversial regarding the OSU football program, they also called out a man by the name of John Talley. Talley is the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in North Central Oklahoma.

According to the article, Talley "grossly overpaid" players for jobs they may not have even performed.

Talley has never done a television interview about the articles, until today.

"It was shocking. It depressed me," John Talley said.

For Talley, the articles tarnished a name he has spent a lifetime building.

"I felt like there were a lot of damages to what I could do in my ministry with Oklahoma State University students," he said.

He was raised to be a hard worker; it's something he has tried to instill in young people.

"I want to help kids physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually," Talley said.

Throughout his years in Stillwater, John Talley has used the FCA ministry to hire students of all ages to do paid work throughout the community.

Some of those he's hired have been OSU football players or other athletes.

"You're working and you're sweating and you sit down for a drink of water, a lot of people will open up their lives where they wouldn't sitting at a really nice table, dressed up," Talley said.

It's that work which made him a target of a series of controversial articles in Sports Illustrated.

"The Dirty Game" called John Talley out by name.

He was accused of overpaying athletes for work.

He was also accused of compensating them for work they didn't do.

Sports Illustrated attributed the claims to past players or coaches.

"It's really hard work, building fences for farmers," Talley said.

In fact, he says most of the work is not done on his property.

Talley says he would never let anyone just slide by, which is why the article was so off base.

John Talley says to his knowledge, he's never even met Thayer Evans, one of the key writers of the Sports Illustrated series.

Though one time, before the articles were released, he says someone else claiming to be from the magazine jumped in his van.

The so-called interview lasted less than five minutes.

"He basically got in and made some accusations that I thought were crazy and I told him that and then he got out," Talley said.

John Talley says Sports Illustrated did ask him for a sit-down interview just days after that initial contact; however, he says just 30 minutes before the interview, they called and canceled.

"They called and said they had enough information, they didn't need to meet with me. And I had two or three years of documentation of what the guys had signed, what they got paid, how many hours they had worked," Talley said.

He says the magazine never reached out to him again.

While many came to his defense, he says it was still a vindication to hear NCAA investigators say the allegations were unfounded.

"I just felt like a ton of bricks had come off my shoulders," Talley said.

Now, Talley and his attorney are moving ahead with a lawsuit against Sports Illustrated and those who wrote the article.

"I have no idea why they would do that, to attack a university and individuals like that. I have no idea," he said.

For him, the suit is not about money, but reputation. He wants to clear his name so he can continue to work in the lives of young people, athlete or not.

After the NCAA found the claims in Sports Illustrated "fundamentally unfounded," officials at the magazine released a statement saying they stand by their articles.

MORE: Click here to read more on Sports Illustrated's 'Dirty Game' articles