OSU football: Former Cowboys deny bonus allegations

James Thomas doesn't hold back when asked about the allegation that former Oklahoma State assistant coach Joe DeForest paid players bonuses for performance.
Oklahoman Published: September 9, 2013

BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com

STILLWATER — James Thomas doesn't hold back when asked about the allegation that former Oklahoma State assistant coach Joe DeForest paid players bonuses for performance.

“If he was actually paying people for making plays, heck, I would have been rich,” said Thomas, who played linebacker at OSU from 2007-11 and earned the nickname “Johnny on the Spot” because of his uncanny ability to snag turnovers. “If you look at my stats, I made play after play after play and didn't get anything.

“I got an ‘attaboy' and a pat on the back. A ‘good job, JT.' I got praise. That's all I got.”

The first installment of a five-part Sports Illustrated investigative series that will allege misconduct inside the OSU program dating back to the Les Miles era will be released Tuesday morning. The vast majority of the accusations — ranging from academic fraud to Orange Pride hostesses providing sex to recruits to a selectively enforced drug policy — took place from 2001-07. But one of the more recent claims is that DeForest provided bonus compensation to players during his 11-year tenure in Stillwater that ended following the 2011 season.

If there was ever a year where performance payments would have been prevalent, it would have been 2011, when the Cowboys led the nation with 44 take-aways on their way to the Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl victory. And one of the biggest playmakers was Thomas, who compiled four interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three sacks and five pass breakups that season.

Yet Thomas stresses he never received payment for his performance, and never saw or heard of any teammates being compensated.

“Heck no,” said Thomas, who was recruited out of the Houston area by DeForest. “He knows the rules. He's a great guy. He wouldn't do anything to jeopardize anything that we had going. Because we had something special going. So as far as paying (us)? Not at all.”

DeForest, who is now in his second season as an assistant coach at West Virginia, has denied the pay-for-performance allegations to The Oklahoman. Another defensive starter from the 2011 team, who spoke under condition of anonymity, echoed Thomas' stance that he was never paid by DeForest and never saw or heard of a teammate receiving a bonuses for big plays.

Former OSU safety Markelle Martin took to Twitter Saturday night to deny the accusations, posting,

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by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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