An upcoming Sports Illustrated report will detail a wide range of corruption in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to the Les Miles era. Among the allegations are academic fraud, players being paid for performance by an assistant coach or overpaid by boosters for jobs, and an OSU hostess program that provided sex for recruits.
The Sports Illustrated series is scheduled to begin within a few days.
“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims,” OSU president Burns Hargis said in a press release. “We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action. We do not condone or tolerate improper conduct in our athletic programs. OSU requires everyone affiliated with the university to follow the rules and adhere to the highest ethical standards.”
Kevin Klintworth, OSU’s senior associate athletic director for communications, said the university has been told by Sports Illustrated that there are no eligibility or NCAA concerns regarding current staff or players.
A source with knowledge of the project said that though the piece is not expected to reveal any major NCAA violations, OSU is likely to bring in an outside investigator to ensure the current program is in compliance with the NCAA.
OSU has been told that 85 percent of the allegations concern events between 2001 and 2007. The statute of limitations on NCAA violations is four years.
The report makes the following allegations:
* Coaches and boosters paying athletes, including violations ranging from paying for jobs not performed, overpaying for jobs and strictly paying players for performance.
Former OSU assistant coach Joe DeForest is accused of running a bonus program – paying players for specific plays – as recently as 2011.
DeForest, who spent 11 seasons at OSU, is in his second year as an assistant coach at West Virginia. Saturday, he denied the charges.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck issued a statement, saying his school is aware of the allegations and said WVU had launched an internal review.
“While our assistant coach has denied the allegations, it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here,” Luck said.
Markelle Martin, who played safety at OSU from 2008-11, tweeted that he “never saw, heard or became apart of anything illegal. He (DeForest) treated us all like his kids, sons."
* A environment of academic impropriety, from players not attending class to grade changing to tutors doing work for players.
* Widespread drug abuse and a drug policy that isn’t uniformly administered.
* Hostesses in the Orange Pride program providing sex to recruits.
Sources said OSU has notified the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference of the expected Sports Illustrated series.
The source added neither Cowboy coach Mike Gundy nor any current players were interviewed for the project, and that Sports Illustrated’s findings indicated that the program is not in the same state it once was. Gundy succeeded Miles in January 2005.
Miles was asked about the report Saturday after the Louisiana State University-University of Alabama at Birmingham game.
“I don't know of any improprieties while I was the coach there. I can tell you this: We have always done things right. I really enjoyed my time at Oklahoma State. I felt like I met a lot of wonderful people and we made our football team better. We worked hard. It has never been a place where you needed to cheat to have success,” he said.
In the press release, OSU athletic director Mike Holder said, “We are shocked by the allegations raised about our football program. We take the allegations seriously. Whether they have merit or not, we don’t know. But we will find out.
“Our athletic department understands the high expectations OSU president Burns Hargis and the OSU board of regents have set for us. Our coaches and staff understand we will not tolerate any violations that compromise our pursuit of excellence, the highest of ethical standards, and full compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.
“We are committed to playing by the rules on and off the field. We strive to be a source of pride for our fans, our university and the Big 12 Conference.”
Sports Illustrated notified OSU officials on Aug. 28 of the planned series, which they said has been in the works for almost a year. Senior writer George Dohrmann and executive editor B.J. Schecter came to Stillwater a few days ago to provide details of the series and said reporter Thayer Evans also was part of the reporting team.