STILLWATER — A lie might have cost Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant his eligibility with the Cowboys for the remainder of the football season. Bryant lied to the NCAA about a visit to the home of former NFL standout Deion Sanders earlier this year and was ruled ineligible on Wednesday for violating NCAA Bylaw 10.1 (d), which pertains to unethical conduct.
Sanders confirmed Wednesday to the New York Times his involvement, telling the newspaper that he and Bryant spent a day together during the summer. Sanders and Bryant met at an athletic center, Fieldhouse USA, in Frisco, Texas, and jogged before leaving for lunch. Bryant and his girlfriend had dinner at Sanders’ home later that day in Prosper, Texas. Sanders told the newspaper the NCAA asked Bryant if he had been in Sanders’ home. The OSU star said no. “He (Dez) panicked,” Sanders said. “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 told the New York Times that Gary Oliver, director of operations at Fieldhouse USA, called the NCAA to report a violation involving Bryant and Sanders. Oliver, a former college assistant coach, denied that he called the NCAA. It is not an NCAA violation for Bryant to visit Sanders’ home, but it is unclear who else, if anyone, was at Sanders’ home at the time of the visit, which has risen to the forefront of an NCAA investigation. The former NFL Pro Bowler has become a mentor to several young players, including former Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday. Sanders’ agent, Eugene Parker, represents Crabtree. Sanders told the New York Times he was asked to mentor Bryant because of his difficult childhood and said he “called Oklahoma State’s receivers coach to ensure it was OK.