Henley quickly developed a tough-love reputation that follows him to this day.
“He challenged everyone,” former Cowboy cornerback Andrew McGee said. “He made guys get their stuff done.”
If a player was failing a subject or ditching a class, Henley would find out about it — and when he did, the player could expect to hear from him. Henley would occasionally show up in the locker room and read guys the take-care-of-your-business, don't-throw-away-a-great-opportunity riot act.
Sometimes, though, no amount of tough love worked.
“If you didn't work hard and you didn't earn your grades, you were gone,” Bassett said. “There were guys in my career at Oklahoma State who were let go from the team because of grades — and they were good players, too.”
Players who started and contributed were booted if they didn't make their grades.
“If Terry Henley was cheating or getting grades for kids,” Bassett said, alluding to allegations in the SI story, “then that would have never happened.”
As much as Henley's job revolves around academics — his office is in the academic center, down a little hall just to the right of the entrance — current and former players say his role as a life coach was every bit as important to them. He was a sounding board. He was a father figure, often to players who were without fathers.
Cowboy wide receiver Charlie Moore remembers meeting Henley during his recruiting visit. Even from that first encounter, Moore has felt that Henley was always available to help him.
“Every time I've called him,” Moore said, “he's been there for me.”
Most of his calls to Henley have been related to academics. What do I need to do to drop a class? Who do I need to talk to about getting a tutor?
But then there are the times when Moore has gone to Henley to just talk about life.
“One time I was in his office,” Moore said, “and two hours later, we were still talking.”
Players are drawn to Henley. Maybe it's his football background. Maybe it's his straight-shooting personality. But he always has one or two football players in his office, and sometimes, they aren't even current players.
McGee, now in his second season as a graduate assistant at West Virginia, sends Henley a text any time he returns to Stillwater.
“I'm going to stop over at the academic center and see you,” it will say.
McGee has seen how things work at other schools, having gone to junior college and journeyed to other schools as a player and coach at both OSU and West Virginia. Now, more than ever, he appreciates what Henley meant to him.
“You never know what you have until you don't have it anymore,” McGee said. “Having that feeling of care ... somebody showing you tough love and spending time, that's what they did at Oklahoma State better than anywhere I've been.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
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