Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma State football: Les Miles, Joe DeForest will get the black eyes

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm •  Published: September 9, 2013
during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia University Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia University Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

I’ve told you mostly all I know about Sports Illustrated’s upcoming series on alleged corruption in the OSU football program, going back to 2011. But here are a few things that maybe I haven’t mentioned:

* Senior writer George Dohrmann and executive editor B.J. Schecter met with OSU officials last week, beginning Tuesday. It was not a confrontational meeting. The meeting was described as “very professional.”

* OSU was told that as many as 60 former players were interviewed, and the interviews have been taped. SI told OSU that any information not on tape will be not be used in the project. SI said that many or most of the allegations have support from multiple sources.

* Clearly, the two people who come out with a black eye are Les Miles and Joe DeForest. OSU as an institution will be hammered, but individually, the reputations of Miles (now at LSU) and DeForest (now at West Virginia) take the biggest hit.

At least one OSU official has talked to DeForest. DeForest denied the charges, as he did Saturday to The Oklahoman.

* The academic fraud contains a variety of allegations, from players not going to class, to professors changing grades, to tutors doing work for players. One employee, who apparently last worked at OSU in 2005, is reported to be the man players could go to and have work done on their behalf. That former employee has denied the charge.

* SI challenges the credentials of Terry Henley, who the primary academic counselor for OSU football. Henley came to OSU in 2001 after working with troubled inner-city youth. OSU defended Henley’s credentials, saying his background is well-suited to handle the needs of many players, especially since Sports Illustrated also alleges that OSU brings players to a new environment on campus and doesn’t equip them with the tools to succeed.

* SI infers that OSU did or does apply its drug policy unfairly, with the better players getting a pass.

* SI reports that DeForest influenced the Orange Pride hostess program, citing many examples of his particular recruits having sex with the hostesses.

* SI claims that 48 percent of OSU players do not finish their eligibility. The university disputes that claim, saying Sports Illustrated is counting players whose careers ended by injury and even counts Vernon Grant, who was killed in a car crash.

* SI will claim that OSU created a culture by which athletes were commodities, and some swirled into despair after leaving Stillwater, including stretches of unemployment and bouts of depression. OSU countered that SI seems to be applying double jeopardy; the Cowboys are accused of fostering a drug culture, but when the Cowboys have removed players from the team for that offense, they are hammered for not working with troubled players.

* OSU officials expressed their distrust of reporter Thayer Evans, who worked on the project and has written a variety of anti-OSU pieces over the years, before he landed at Sports Illustrated. Including references to OSU as “Chokie State.” OSU sources said Dohrmann and Schecter were taken aback by that response. It is OSU’s understanding that Evans’ name will not be on the  report.

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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