OSU is not responsible for players' way of life after leaving school

All of the stories about life after Oklahoma State football that Sports Illustrated chronicled in the fifth and final installment of its investigation of Cowboy football are sad. Dreams weren't realized. Hopes are dashed. Lives are difficult.
by Jenni Carlson Published: September 16, 2013


photo - Mike Holder watches game action during the second half of a college football game between the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (UTSA) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.  Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Mike Holder watches game action during the second half of a college football game between the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (UTSA) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Artrell Woods lives with his mother and makes $2.13 an hour.

Kevin White breeds pit bulls in attempt to make ends meet.

Marcus Richardson sits in a state prison in Texas.

Jonathan Cruz tried to kill himself.

All of the stories about life after Oklahoma State football that Sports Illustrated chronicled in the fifth and final installment of its investigation of Cowboy football are sad. Dreams weren't realized. Hopes are dashed. Lives are difficult.

Stories like that are sad.

But as we read the final missive in this series, one question lingered.

What is Oklahoma State's obligation to a player once his playing career is over?

For that matter, what's the duty of any school?

Read the SI story, and you would be led to believe that OSU is responsible for what has become of these players. The problems. The difficulties. The troubles. The piece pins all of that on OSU because it didn't care about the players, not when they were on campus and certainly not when they left.

One of the prime examples of all of that was Herschel Sims. The story contends that OSU coaches were unaware that the five-star running back been abused by his stepfather when he was a kid, a horrific story of repeated beatings that ultimately landed the stepfather and Sims' mother in prison.

I don't buy it.

An MTV show followed the Texas prep star for several days during his senior season at Abilene High. The abuse was part of his story.

It was then written about by numerous media outlets in Oklahoma.

And yet we're still supposed to believe that Cowboy coaches knew nothing of a story that was known by millions of TV viewers and newspaper readers?

Sims eventually got kicked off the team at OSU for stealing $700 from a teammate. He took Jeremiah Tshimanga's ID card, forged his signature and withdrew the money from his bank account. Sims was charged with two felony counts of second-degree forgery.

You want to talk about caring for players — what about protecting everyone from guys like this? I'd say Mike Gundy was looking out for the rest of the Cowboys when he booted a guy who will steal hundreds of dollars from a teammate.

Sims is quoted in SI as saying “I wasn't playing much and I wasn't helping out the team much, so it was easy for them to let me go. It was just all about football. They didn't care about anything I was going through.”

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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