SI's five-part series on Oklahoma State
A 10-month investigation that included independent interviews with 64 Oklahoma State football players from 1999 to 2011, as well as current and former football staffers, reveals the measures that a program will take to become elite -- and the collateral damage that follows. FULL STORY
- The Money
Payments, bonuses and sham jobs. Between postgame handouts from football staff and the largesse of boosters, Cowboys players had ample opportunties to receive under-the-table income. In separate interviews, eight former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments and 29 other OSU players were named by teammates as having also taken money. FULL STORY
- The Academics
A dozen 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. FULL STORY
- The Drugs
As the Cowboys became one of the nation's elite teams, players were not only using drugs, but also dealing them. It was common for some players to smoke marijuana before games. Says Donnell Williams, a linebacker on the 2006 team, "Drugs were everywhere." School officials largely ignored use and abuse by elite players but cast aside those players deemed expendable. FULL STORY
- The Sex
Under Les Miles, membership in Orange Pride, the football program's hostess group, tripled as the organization became a key recruiting tool. Players say that a small number of women in the group had sex with recruits. Says Artrell Woods, a Cowboys wide receiver from 2006 to '08, "The idea was to get [recruits] to think if they came [to OSU] it was going to be like that all the time, with all these girls wanting to have sex with you." FULL STORY
- The Fallout
One of the selling points of college football is that it changes lives, that young men have their character and fortunes enhanced by taking part in the sport, even if they remain on campus for only a short time. But in the past decade, player after player has been driven out of Stillwater, 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. COMING IN NEXT WEEK'S SI/ONLINE SEPT. 17
Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis says the school will conduct an investigation into possible rules violations by the football program that have been alleged in a series of stories by Sports Illustrated this week, and will ask the NCAA to be part of the review.
In a video statement posted online Friday night, Hargis calls the allegations "very disturbing."
The series of stories included numerous former Oklahoma State players making allegations of cash payments to players, academic misconduct, inconsistent enforcement of drug policies and some of the school's recruiting hostesses having sex with prospects from 2001-10.
"We must review these accusations expeditiously, but thoroughly, determine the truth and take whatever measures are appropriate," Hargis said.
He said the school is "engaging an independent expert in NCAA matters" to assist the review and welcomes the NCAA's involvement.
"Whether the reporting here was fair and credible is not the issue," Hargis said. "The issue is the substance of the accusations. It's my responsibility as the OSU president to assure that the review is fair, comprehensive and complete."
Hargis also endorsed both football coach Mike Gundy, who has been leading the program since 2005, and athletic director Mike Holder, who also took over in 2005. None of the accusations directly implicate Gundy of inappropriate conduct.
"I believe that Coach Gundy, athletic director Holder and our entire academic faculty are committed to making our programs the best they can be," Hargis said. "I'm confident in coach Gundy and his staff.
"I believe Coach Gundy has guided the program in a way that exemplifies and reinforces the values of hard work, fair play and personal integrity," he said. "Certainly at Oklahoma State we want to win, but we want to win the right way."
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