Sports Illustrated's latest volume — “The Sex” — in its exposé on Oklahoma State, paints the picture of hostesses from the Orange Pride organization being paired with recruits.
And it's true, said former Orange Pride member Lindsay Fredenburg.
Yet for a far different purpose than the sex which Sports Illustrated suggests.
“We were absolutely paired with specific recruits,” said Fredenburg, who served in the organization from 2004-06. “I'm from Houston. It only makes logical sense to pair me with a recruit from Houston. I can tell that kid what it's like to come from the big city to Stillwater, Oklahoma. I can tell that kid's parents what it's like to catch flights in and out of Hobby Airport. What airlines run specials at certain times. What the drive times are like. What route seems to be the best way to get from here to there.
“I'm paired with that kid because I can relate.”
OSU's Orange Pride group was at the center of Sports Illustrated's latest piece, which attempted to connect the football support volunteer organization as influencing recruits through sexual favors. The report involved former players — many of the same already introduced in SI's previous stories in the series — and former members of Orange Pride, although none quoted spoke of directly being involved in the sexual encounters.
The opening of “The Sex” outlines a 2003 recruiting visit from one of the nation's top prospects, who told SI he was greeted by two Orange Pride members, women who soon were both having sex with him.
“Rock ‘n' rolling, I had the best of the best — the aces,” the one-time recruit told SI.
The recruit was not identified, “to protect the identities of the two women,” in the report that featured a shared byline of George Dohrmann, Thayer Evans and Melissa Segura, a new writer to the series.
The online release of the story was delayed from an announced 8 a.m. delivery by more than three hours, finally being added to the website around 11:45.
“The Sex,” outlined the growth of the Orange Pride program through the coaching tenures of Les Miles and Mike Gundy. The piece focuses on the premise that girls hooked up with recruits, with knowledge of coaches who may have paired willing hostesses with key recruits, although SI reported that “none of the more than 30 former players or the 14 Orange Pride members who spoke to SI about the group had direct knowledge of a coach or athletic department staff member instructing a hostess to have sex with a recruit.”
Artrell Woods, a wide receiver from 2006-08, said he did not have sex with an Orange Pride member, but was aware of others who did.
“There's no other way a female can convince you to come play football at a school besides (sex),” Woods is quoted as saying. “The idea was to get (recruits) to think that if they came (to Oklahoma State), it was gonna be like that all the time, with … girls wanting to have sex with you.”
Richetti Jones, who played for the Cowboys from 2007-11, said it wasn't the job of the girls to convince recruits to attend OSU, instead praising their other roles.
“These girls are just another part of the team,” Jones said. “They help out in the football office, they help out with recruiting and paperwork, helping with the little things coaches don't have time for.
“They decorate the locker room. They decorate the football office. They're the girls who meet and greet parents when they first come to Oklahoma State on official visits. They're the people who are going to help you find out where you need to be.
“They do so many things to help the program. And they're part of the OSU faithful. If we're winning, losing, whatever it is, they're always going to be cheering for us, because that's the role they've committed themselves to do.”
Said James Thomas, a Cowboy defensive back from 2008-11: “They don't allow non-classy ladies to that organization. They were fun. They showed me around campus, took me around campus, showed me the academic center.”
The SI piece suggests a small faction of the Orange Pride girls, a “group within the group,” was involved in the sexual encounters with recruits.
One unnamed member of the organization said in the story, “People did cross the line. That's why I was only in the program for one year … It was very disturbing. When I found out, that's why I quit.”
Fredenburg, however, said she never saw such a thing on her watch.
“Not at all. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt,” Fredenburg said, “not a single girl that I was with in Orange Pride with was ever told, or asked by a coach, that she needed to have sex with a recruit.”
SI made a point of revealing that both Miles and Gundy were involved in meeting with those selected to the Orange Pride group.
Miles, in an email to SI, said: “The volunteers' role in our program was important and I wanted to stress how seriously we took their duties and responsibilities and the manner in which we expected those students to conduct themselves if they were selected for Orange Pride.”
Gundy declined to comment to SI, as he has throughout the series, so far.
Fredenburg said the meetings with Gundy were not interviews for positions, but a time to review instructions and expectations, none of which involved having sex.
“We never interviewed with Coach Gundy,” Fredenburg said, “but once the girls were selected, Coach Gundy came in at our very first meeting and he laid down the law that, ‘These are my expectations of you. These are the standards you're being held to. You will not, ever, violate this code of conduct. You will never violate the NCAA's code of conduct. If there is ever a reason to even think that you have, you will be dismissed without reason.'
“It was spelled out to us in black and white. There was no gray area, in what was expected of us. And I don't think there was a single girl in the group willing to compromise that.”
Fredenburg said the Orange Pride girls provided a friendly and familiar face throughout the recruiting process, for recruits and their families. From the pregame meal, to The Walk and out onto the field at Boone Pickens Stadium, the girls are there.
And, yes, they are sometimes paired, for a reason.
“You saw that across the board,” Fredenburg said. “Girls were strategically placed with recruits because we had something in common with them and we had something in common with their parents. We weren't just selling Oklahoma State to that recruit, we were selling it to their parents.
“They may have never heard of Oklahoma State and it was their first time on campus. We were their first impression.”
Fredenburg carries lasting impressions from her time in the Orange Pride. She said she maintains relationships with other girls from the program to this day. And through Orange Pride, she first met her husband, Cody Fredenburg, a former graduate assistant coach at OSU who is now on the coaching staff at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas.
“It was one of my greatest privileges of my life to attend Oklahoma State and to be a member of Orange Pride,” she said. “I met my best friends. I met my husband through that organization. It provided me with incredible opportunities.”