Brett Deering

Sports Illustrated's Oklahoma State story draws NCAA interest

Oklahoma State and LSU authorities have denied the contents of a Sports Illustrated report, which alleges bonus payments, grade-fixing, ignored drug tests, and other improprieties.

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NCAA investigating SI's Oklahoma State story

Remember that five-part story on Oklahoma State football from 2013? This one? The highly hyped one with all the money and sex and drugs and so forth that kind of fizzled out as it went?

The NCAA's investigating that story, ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported Monday, and will likely wrap up at some point soon:

"The inquiry continues and it is hoped that it will conclude within the next few months," a university spokesman told ESPN. "The university anticipates releasing a report after the NCAA concludes its process. Since it is an ongoing inquiry conducted in cooperation with the NCAA, the university is unable to comment further at this time."

Speaking of McMurphy, he was one of several who found issues with SI's reporting at the time.


Gundy: SI report had 'zero' impact on program

If the Cowboys were hurt by the SI report, it wasn't on the recruiting trail, at least according to Mike Gundy.


Hey, 'Sex' is here

SI's Part 4 on Oklahoma State football is here. It's called "Sex." A quote: "A small number of Orange Pride members had sexual relations with them or with other prospects during recruiting visits. According to the former hostesses who spoke to SI, the vast majority did not have sex with recruits."


SI didn't fire Thayer Evans, you guys

The Twitter rumor cycle gets another one wrong.


ESPN finds mistakes in SI's OSU report

Thursday, ESPN's Brett McMurphy became the latest person to raise questions about Sports Illustrated's Oklahoma State story series.

This is bad for Sports Illustrated. McMurphy is one of the last people in college football media you want raising questions about you. He is right about things. To say his reputation as a journalist surpasses SI reporter Thayer Evans' would be an understatement.

After several days of former Oklahoma State players recanting and denying their roles in the story, including repeated attacks on Evans' interview methods, McMurphy reports school records show holes in the stories involving former safety Fath' Carter, running back Tatum Bell, and running back Dexter Pratt.

The reported issues are not foundational. McMurphy finds via university records that SI's description of transcript matters weren't correct. By themselves, these differences could be written off as minor.

But added to the swelling chorus of criticism from elsewhere, they're concerning. The amount of time poured into this story (which SI says took 10 months to create), the amount of promotional work (the series is being published in five parts, with a press release the week prior), and the reputation-staking going on (multiple SI staffers have described the story as impeccably edited) should've demanded examining the records ESPN reportedly discovered within two days.

And McMurphy isn't just fact-checking SI's report. He's fact-checking SI's response to the criticism raised against its report, including portions of author George Dohrmann's defense:

In Tuesday's SI report, Carter said he graduated from OSU with a degree in education. George Dorhmann, one of two SI reporters who reported the stories, also said on The Doug Gottlieb Show Tuesday that "Fath' (Carter) has two degrees from Oklahoma State, spoke on the record, recorded. I have no reason to believe he lied. And he's certainly not disgruntled."

Carter didn't have two degrees. Carter attended OSU from 2000-05 but never graduated at all from the school, according to the university's registrar office.


Sports Illustrated's Oklahoma State drugs story alleges lax control

"Drugs were everywhere," says Donnell Williams, a linebacker on the 2006 team who says he didn't use drugs but observed other players who did. Other players echoed that, saying it was common for some players to smoke weed before games.

A line from Thursday's Part 3 of the Sports Illustrated investigation into Oklahoma State football. This edition focuses on drugs, largely marijuana, with touches of cocaine and steroids. It should be noted Williams, the player quoted above, has already disputed his inclusion.

4 more OSU interviewees slam Thayer Evans

Did Sports Illustrated's Thayer Evans mislead former players, or are those quoted in the series embarrassed and trying to preserve their reputations in Stillwater?


Brandon Weeden says Thayer Evans asked him about Oklahoma State pulling an 'Okie choke'

Despite the fact he was there for four seasons the article covers, Weeden said, "It all happened before I got there. But the guys that they did question were not very good sources to question because they are kids that got kicked off the team for drugs or for whatever it might be. They were dismissed and so these are guys that aren't real credible. And the guy who wrote the article (Evans), we had a little run-in at Texas. He's an OU guy. He's always had it out for Oklahoma State, so he comes up to me after we beat Texas and he said, 'when's it going to happen? When's Okie State going to pull it's Okie choke? Like they always do.' I laughed and said, 'Who is this clown?' to our SID guys.''

The former Oklahoma State quarterback becomes the latest former Cowboy to express strong objections to a series currently being published by Sports Illustrated, in which all manner of rule-breaking is alleged by other former players. There's much more here from Weeden, by Mary Kay Cabot. HT USA Today.

Miles defends himself over OSU report

The former Cowboys head coach from 2001-04 defended his record in Stillwater when speaking with the media on Wednesday.


SI report claims widespread academic fraud at OSU

Former Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles and wide receiver Dez Bryant were the two biggest names implicated in part two of Sports Illustrated's report into alleged NCAA rule-breaking at Oklahoma State.

The report claims that current LSU coach Miles fostered an atmosphere where football was more important than academics. Tutors and school support staff allegedly would regularly complete homework assignments and provide test answers to football players in order to keep them eligible.

Bryant was named second team academic All-Big 12, but only went to class when "shepherded" by a staff member and usually had a staffer do his homework. Bryant denies the allegations.

Here is a complete list of former Oklahoma State players that either claim they received the benefit of academic improprieties or have been accused of it by another player.

Carter, Cole, Mickens, defensive tackle Larry Brown (2005 and '06), offensive lineman Jonathan Cruz (2002), linebacker LeRon Furr (2009 to '10), defensive tackle Brad Girtman (2003 and '04), safety Chris Massey (1999 to 2002) defensive end T.J. Minor (2005 and '06), linebacker Marcus Richardson (2007), running back Herschel Sims (2011), wide receiver Artrell Woods (2006 to '08) and defensive back Thomas Wright (2002 to '04) told SI that they had work done for them and/or that they received other improper academic assistance. They and a dozen other players say they witnessed teammates participating in academic misconduct. Among those they named: running back Tatum Bell (2000 to '03), wide receiver Prentiss Elliott (2004), quarterback Josh Fields (2001 to '03), safety Vernon Grant (2002 to '04), cornerback Darrent Williams (2001 to '04) and defensive end Kevin Williams (1998 to 2002).

Darrent Williams and Grant are deceased. Bell, Elliott, Fields and Kevin Williams deny ever having work done for them while at OSU.

As one may have noticed by now, not a lot of the named players are particularly big names. Even some Oklahoma State fans are having problems remembering who they are.

Well, Mr. Pistols Guy, this is Andre McGill.

Another interesting thing to ponder:

Read the full SI report for a more detailed accounting of the alleged transgressions, none of which appear to be particularly shocking or novel, though it's all very well-detailed and -reported. There should be more former Oklahoma State players coming out and defending themselves today, including former quarterback Josh Fields:


Reactions to SI's Oklahoma State report

The reaction to Sports Illustrated's report on alleged Oklahoma State infractions hit critical mass Tuesday.


Oklahoma State responds to SI

The school has a detailed website with its response.


Oklahoma State player says he was misquoted

Rodrick Johnson, who was a source for Sports Illustrated's investigation into Oklahoma State football, claims his words were twisted by SI's reporters.


Many former players deny allegations in SI piece

Reaction to the first piece from Sports Illustrated's investigative report into the Oklahoma State program from many former players paints a much different picture than the allegations made in the article.

About a half-dozen ex-players called in to a radio show on 107.7 FM in Stillwater to deny this first portion of the story, which alleges that many players were receiving payments under the table.

Former starting quarterback and MLB player Josh Fields was one of the players to call in and take issue with the report. Former offensive lineman Corey Curtis did so as well, and said he used to sit next to Brad Girtman -- one of SI's sources -- in the locker room and never saw any money being handed out. All of the players who spoke on the show had essentially the same things to say.

The radio show in question is hosted by Sam Mayes, a former OSU offensive lineman, who echoed the sentiments of the players calling in, going so far as to say he'd be willing to take a lie detector test.

Here's more reaction from former Cowboys:

Also in part one were allegations of no-show jobs provided by a local Fellowship of Christian Athletes director named John Talley. Several former players defended Talley via Twitter and said they worked hard for what they were paid.

More from SB Nation:

Five-part SI investigation into Oklahoma State football coming out

Spencer Hall recaps Week 2, and Mack Brown needs a home

Look closely: Jadeveon Clowney is doing just fine

Michigan, FSU make BCS games in new bowl projections

Would coaches rather replace Mack Brown or Lane Kiffin?

Today’s college football news headlines


The risks we take

If everyone cheats, then no one cheats.


Investigative series into Okla. State announced

Sports Illustrated announced Monday a five-part investigative series into the Oklahoma State football program called "The Dirty Game." According to Sports Illustrated's release on the series, it is the result of a 10-month investigation that included interviews with more than 60 players who played for the Cowboys between 2001 and 2010. The first part will go live on Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET.

This is not going to be a glowing report, it's safe to say. From SI's release:

"The Dirty Game," a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED special investigative report that looks into the transformation of a struggling college football program into a national powerhouse, is set to launch tomorrow morning on The series is the result of a comprehensive 10-month investigation into the Oklahoma State University football program. It includes independent and on-the-record interviews with more than 60 former OSU football players who played from 2001 to '10, as well as current and former OSU football staffers.

The findings will be presented in a five-part series across SI's family of platforms, beginning with Part 1 (money), which launches on tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET and is this week's magazine cover story, on newsstands and tablets Wednesday. Additional live coverage can be found on SI Now,'s live daily talk show (weekdays at 1 p.m. ET) and across SI's social media outlets.

After 11 losing seasons in 12 years, OSU turned itself into one of the top programs in the nation. Since 2002, OSU has had 10 winnings seasons, earned its first Big 12 title and went to its first BCS Bowl. The report reveals that OSU went to extreme measures to build a winning program, with an increased willingness to cut corners and bend rules. The transgressions began under former coach Les Miles, who was the head coach in Stillwater from 2001 to '04 and is now the head coach at LSU, and continued under current head coach Mike Gundy, who was promoted from offensive coordinator in 2005.

SI executive editor Jon Wertheim, SI assistant managing editor Hank Hersch and executive editor B.J. Schecter oversaw the investigative report, which was written and reported by senior writers George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans.

"We wanted to take a comprehensive look at a big-time program, particularly one that made a rapid ascent," says Wertheim. "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."

Parts 2 - 4 of the report continue on this week and the series culminates in next week's SI issue and on In addition, will feature videos of former Cowboys talking about their experiences in Stillwater. SI Now will have live coverage and reaction throughout the week. The series will run as follows:

  • Part 1: Money (On 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 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 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 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 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.

Both head coach Mike Gundy as well as athletics director Mike Holder addressed the impending report during a press conference on Monday.


"We're all committed to playing by the rules and doing things the right way, and for people to say that is not what's happening is very disturbing. Our goal is to separate fact from fiction, and then we can start dealing with it. We've already notified the NCAA, and they're going to assign an investigator to this. We'll reach out and get someone to stand with that investigator and go through the facts. And at the end of the day, we'll come to some conclusions, and we'll deal with those. We'll prop ourselves back up, polish up that OSU brand and move on down the road."


"We -- our staff, myself -- are focused on our team doing the right things. I'm very proud of what we've accomplished here on and off the field. Our goal has always been to take young people and make them better over a four- or five-year period. We're very proud of that in many ways."

Gundy said that he would not comment further on the matter and didn't take any questions about it.


Miles denies Sports Illustrated report

The LSU head coach denies "any improprieties" while he was in charge of Oklahoma State.


WVU coach named in money scandal

West Virginia's Joe DeForest could be in some hot water after being named in a recent Sports Illustrated report.

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