Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma State football: Analyzing each Sports Illustrated allegation

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm •  Published: September 10, 2013

Sports Illustrated has reported its first installment of the OSU football investigation, this one concerning improper payments to players.

Here is every particular allegation and my response:

* 2005: Freshman cornerback Calvin Mickens says he received $200 from a booster he did not know, for playing well in his debut game, against MontanaState.

Mickens also said he received several similar payouts after a 62-23 loss at Texas A&M in which he had an interception.

Let me get this straight. Someone paid a freshman cornerback after a 39-point defeat. That’s messed up on some level.

* 2003: Defensive tackle Brad Girtman says he saw a football staff member give cornerback Darrent Williams an envelope packed with bills, after Williams’ 63-yard interception return keyed a 38-34 home victory over Kansas State. Cornerback/receiver Chris Wright says he saw DeForest hand stacks of bills to players.

If true, discretion was not a hallmark of the OSU corruption.

* 2003-04: Girtman says the most he received for his performance was $500 from a staff member.

Girtman says his rate was $50 for quarterback hurries, $75-$100 for tackles and $200-$250 for sacks, and that Joe DeForest told him the rates. Linebacker Rodrick Johnson said players openly discussed DeForest’s rewards for big plays on special teams, between $100 to $500 for a big play on special teams.

DeForest comes out looking really bad in this report. I’m not sure he can keep his present job, at West Virginia.

* 2002-04: Defensive back Thomas Wright says that players would find money in new pairs of sock in lockers after games.

That’s what I meant by discretion.

* 2002-07: Rodrick Johnson said Darrent Williams openly talked about getting paid, and tailback Seymore Shaw said Tatum Bell openly talked about getting paid.

If players were openly talking about the payments, the talk had to filter down to the rest of the team and/or coaches. So someone is lying. Either those who said they got paid, or those who say they never heard or saw anything untoward.

* Rodrick Johnson, Calvin Mickens, Seymore Shaw and receiver Artrell Woods say quarterback Bobby Reid received money early in his career, when he was the starter, but that the money “dried up” when he lost the starting job.

Maybe so. But this is opposite of the earlier claim in the Sports Illustrated report, that it wasn’t just stars or starters who got paid. It was players who had their hand out.

* 2001: Safety Fath’ Carter said players received $500 handshakes in the locker room after OSU’s Bedlam upset.

Now that’s an act of faith. Someone who came to the game believing victory is possible.

* 2001-03: Fath’ Carter says he and other players were handed as much as $100 by boosters during the team’s traditional walk from the Student Union to the stadium on game day.

Someone said that no way could that happen. What are you talking about? That easily could happen. In case you haven’t noticed, parades are not all that orderly.

* 2005-06: Calvin Mickens says he visited a local businessman four times, receiving $500 on each trip, and that receiver Adarius Bowman accompanied him several times and received “way more money.”

I wish the local businessman had been named. That would be interesting.

* 2001: Seymore Shaw says that after he decided to attend OSU, a booster gave him between $400 and $500.

Finally, a recruiting violation. All this other stuff is alleged to take care of guys already on campus. But this is old-fashioned paying players while in high school. Of course, it also doesn’t completely jive. Shaw actually signed with OU but wasn’t given a scholarship that August, because he was a partial-academic qualifier. OSU had one available, so Shaw was free to go to OSU and did.

* 2003: Brad Girtman says that when he arrived at OSU, DeForest handed him a $5,000 debit card that was periodically refilled.

This is similar to a new fad I heard about in the Southeastern Conference, probably at Auburn, in which players are given casino gift cards. Very difficult to trace.

* 2003-04: Cornerback Rickey Coxeff says he waited in a car several times while Darrent Williams and Tatum Bell visited DeForest’s home and returned with cash.

You know, probably a good idea if players didn’t frequent coaches’ houses.

* 2001-03: Seymore Shaw says assistant coach Larry Porter gave him $100 several times and Fath’ Carter says Porter gave him money so that freshmen Rickey Coxeff and Xavier Lawson-Kennedy could stay with Carter before their room and board kicked in.

DeForest no doubt is in hot water at West Virginia. I wonder if the same is true of Porter, who’s now on Mack Brown’s staff at Texas? Of course, the water is hot on all the UT assistants, for other reasons.

* 2001: Seymore Shaw says head coach Les Miles introduced him to OSU booster Kay Norris, who paid Shaw $400 to take a Christmas tree out of the attic and paid him $700 “numerous” times to clean the floorboards of rental houses, which took about an hour to complete.

This is unlike all the other allegations in that I knew Kay Norris, who died in 2006. Her son, Chris, has told The Oklahoman that the Norrises have no rental houses, at least not this side of Broken Bow.

* 2001-07: Fath’ Carter, Brad Girtman, Rodrick Johnson and Thomas Wright say that John Talley, an area director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, either grossly overpaid them for jobs they did or compensated them for jobs they didn’t do, mostly on Talley’s ranch.

Seems a strange mix. FCA directors are very instrumental in the lives of collegiate athletes. Adding an employee/employer relationship doesn’t seem like a good idea.

* 1999-02: Quarterback Aso Pogi says he and another player lived at Talley’s ranch one summer rent-free.

Seems like free rent would be an easy and hard-to-trace way to circumvent NCAA rules. I’m surprised we don’t hear more of it.

* 2001-07: Talley says he sometimes paid players a fee for speaking engagements and that he cleared it through OSU’s compliance office. OSU compliance director Kevin Fite said the speaking engagements were not cleared through OSU and that Talley was told he could not pay for speaking engagements.

This is a damning allegation, for this reason. Two people with no axe to grind are in disagreement about what happened. So there’s a problem. You can’t blame this on malcontents or anything else. Someone is either lying, or they didn’t care enough about the truth to pay attention.

2003-04: Coxeff says he worked in a booster’s yard a half dozen times during the summer and was paid $100-$200 each time for “barely doing anything.”

Rickey Coxeff. Rickey Coxeff and Calvin Mickens. If someone was paying these guys to boost OSU football, that’s an unbelievably bad move. Risk, reward, folks. Risk, reward.

* 2004: Defensive end William Bell says he was paid “a couple hundred dollars” to fish for catfish at a booster’s house.

Some of this is just getting silly. I’m not saying it’s not true. I’m saying it’s silly.

* Seymore Shaw says he saw Joe DeForest paying Darrent Williams for jobs he didn’t do at DeForest’s home. DeForest told SI he paid players for work at his home.

No way should a coach be employing a player. No way. Even if it’s not against NCAA rules, which it’s not.

* 2007: Calvin Mickens and Artrell Woods say they were paid for an entire summer of working on the Boone Pickens Stadium construction project but worked maybe one week.

Another horrible idea. Who OK’d that? The appearance of impropriety can be as damning as the impropriety itself.

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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