OSU announced Wednesday that its All-American junior wide receiver had been ruled ineligible after providing false statements about his relationship with former NFL star Deion Sanders to NCAA investigators. NCAA rules prohibit student athletes from entering into any type agreement with an agent until their eligibility has been exhausted. Sanders, who resides in Dallas, is associated with sports agent Eugene Parker, who was Sanders' agent when he played.
It's unclear at this point whether Bryant will actually travel to Indianapolis to meet with representatives from the NCAA or if a someone from OSU will go and represent Bryant.
The NCAA's investigation of Bryant dates back to at least late July and was hanging over Oklahoma State in the days before the Cowboys' Sept. 5 opener against Georgia, according to correspondence between the university and NCAA. The e-mail correspondence was obtained by The Oklahoman through an open records request.
Bryant was interviewed by the NCAA on Aug. 28 -- eight days before his two touchdowns lifted the Cowboys to a 24-10 victory and put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In an Aug. 31 email to OSU associate athletic director for compliance Scott Williams, an NCAA official asked "why does (Bryant's) story keep changing?"
On Sept. 2, responding to an inquiry about Bryant's status, an NCAA official reminded Williams "it is the institution's responsibility to certify the eligibility of its student-athletes," adding that OSU "must feel comfortable that Mr. Bryant is eligible to compete."
The e-mail correspondence shows that the NCAA requested Bryant's phone records from January through July. But in an email dated Sept. 2, NCAA investigator Marcus Wilson noted that NCAA staff had twice requested "certain phone records" -- on July 24 and Aug. 27 -- and had yet to receive them.
In the same e-mail, Wilson requests "that the institution confirm that Mr. Bryant has paid for cell phone usage since January 2009." In an email the following Monday, OSU's Williams says that Bryant's cell phone is under the family plan of one of his teammate and after consulting the Big 12 and NCAA Director of Student-Athlete Reinstatement Jennifer Henderson - the Friday before the Georgia game - it was determined that Bryant's cell phone arrangement did not constitute a violation.
In an e-mail sent Monday, Williams requests asks Henderson if someone from her staff could be present when Bryant "explains to Wilson why he answered the questions the way he did in the initial interview."
As OSU was preparing a press release regarding Bryant's ineligible status on Tuesday, OSU's Williams told the NCAA's Wilson that OSU would like "to be as transparent as possible" stating: "Would it be possible to release information regarding an alleged association between the former NFL player and an active agent? Would it be permissible to release information regarding the alleged workouts? What parts of the investigations are we restricted from discussing?"
Wilson responded: "We would request that institution not provide further details about the specifics of the ongoing investigations (i.e. information about the workouts, association with any agent, etc.)"
Fieldhouse USA employee Gary Oliver, a former Texas A&M player and graduate assistant, has been interviewed by the NCAA about an alleged workout involving Bryant, Sanders and Omar Stoutmire at Fieldhouse USA.
Sanders told the New York Times on Wednesday that he "jogged around" with Bryant at Fieldhouse USA before having both lunch and dinner with the All-American receiver later that day.
When asked about the situation, Sanders told the newspaper: "He (Bryant) panicked. He thought it was a violation to come over to my house and it isn't. He said no, that he hadn't been over here, and I said, yeah, he had been over here. I don't lie, and he panicked."
Sanders also told the newspaper that he was asked to mentor Bryant and that he called an OSU assistant coach for approval.
When asked about Sanders' statements, OSU spokesperson Kevin Klintworth said OSU would not comment on an ongoing investigation.