NewsOK Sports Editor Mike Sherman and his team chatted with readers Wednesday about the second installment of a Sports Illustrated report that claims several OSU football players, from 2001 to 2011, received payment for performance and no-show jobs. Read the complete chat transcript here.
How soon can we expect a response from the university?
Mike Sherman - Oklahoma State has started a website that it will use to handle/refute allegations made by Sports Illustrated. Here it is: http://response.okstate.edu/
I think that will be the platform for anything OSU has to say about this until the series is complete.
Can OSU and the named players have any legal recourse against SI for libel?
Mike Sherman - It's possible that individuals could sue for libel. Libel suits are very expensive to pursue and defend, which is why Sports Illustrated most definitely vetted this with its top editors and lawyers -- who are experts in libel law. While there could be inaccuracies in the reporting, the process of vetting it to make sure it does not expose SI to libel lawsuits was no doubt a stringent one. I wouldn't expect to see many libel suits out of this. Remember, the standard for proving libel is also high. Plaintiffs must prove malice and/or reckless disregard for the truth.
Any idea on when the "audio tapes" of the interviews will be released?
Mike Sherman - It will be interesting to see whether Sports Illustrated releases them en masse. It's more likely that if they are released, they will be specific to claims by those interviewed that they didn't say what SI quoted them as saying.
Why would O.S.U. officials give the Big 12 an apology if this did not happen?
Mike Sherman - Mike Holder clarified that yesterday. He was apologizing to his fellow athletic directors and member institutions for the negative publicity that was coming, not for anything OSU did to merit it.
Has it been established how this whole thing started?
Mike Sherman - 1. How it started: In a video yesterday, Sports Illustrated's lead writer and its lead editor said the series started because the magazine wanted to look into a college football program that had made a rapid rise and that Thayer Evans had been hearing things about Oklahoma State. 2. George Dohrman, the lead writer, said players DID NOT come forward. He said they had to find them.
Why is everyone's defense that "this happens at every university?"
Berry Tramel - That's no defense. And I can tell you this. While I think boosters slip money to players at virtually every school, I don't think many schools have coaches handing out money to players. That's the most damning thing that's been alleged so far, the DeForest stuff.
If The Oklahoman had done this series, how would it have handled it differently? What would you have added? What would have been edited out?
Berry Tramel - Oh heck, that's quite a question. For one thing, I think it needed to be pointed out that most of these guys left OSU for one problem or another. Also, point out the guys that didn't -- Fath' Carter, Daniel McLemore, etc.
Is there any evidence out there that OSU could possibly get a major violation?
Berry Tramel - I think right now, OSU is in good shape with the NCAA. We'll see the rest of the week.
If the NCAA gets involved what do you think they will investigate first and foremost?
Berry Tramel - After two parts, I'd say Joe DeForest. I don't think there's any doubt about it.
What part do you see being the most damaging?
Berry Tramel - The idea that OSU, and perhaps Gundy, fostered a drug culture. That is very disconcerting.
Do you really think a coach was blatantly handing out cash in front of all the players and no one said anything about it until now?
Jenni Carlson - I can't say if that was happening. Every player that I've talked to said that it didn't, and I've talked to guys who were among the best on the teams they were on. Greg Richmond. Corey Hilliard. Charlie Johnson. Those guys were all-conference caliber guys. They say they never got anything. All I can go on is what I hear from them.
Do you think not interviewing Marilyn Middlebrook is a little suspect? Do you think SI avoided this to keep the investigation under wraps from OSU?
Jenni Carlson - To your first question: that was surprising to me. If I think academics as they related to OSU athletics, the first person I think of is Marilyn. A high-ranking OSU official told me today that SI didn't speak to her or ask to speak to her. Odd.
To your second question: it's my understanding that SI didn't talk to Terry Henley until last week, so it wasn't like they were trying to go around behind Marilyn's back before they talked to him.
If you are a big name at OSU, why would you ever admit that you received benefits?
Jenni Carlson - A valid point. Those guys, though, are staking their credibility on what they say. And if you're a guy who's in the NFL, for example, you could conceivably have a lot more to lose if it's proven you lied. A guy who's kicking around his hometown, living with his mom might not have as much to lose.
Why are there no professors named in today's articles, or the classes where they got these easy A's?
Jenni Carlson - I would've liked to have seen more detail about who the professors were and what the classes were. Seems like info that would've been attainable, even if guys didn't remember. Get a transcript. Figure it out from there.