Sports Illustrated: Oklahoma State Football Players Received Illegal Benefits

| by Sylvan Lane
article imagearticle image

Sports Illustrated released the first installment Tuesday in a five-part series of reports on alleged NCAA violations committed by coaches, players and boosters in the Oklahoma State University football program. The reports allege that between 2001 and 2011, players earned pay-for-play rewards and money from fake jobs while at OSU.

"It was just like in life when you work," former OSU defensive back Thomas Wright told SI. "The better the job you do, the more money you make."

The Sports Illustrated report includes the testimony of eight former OSU players, who in turn implicated 29 former teammates, in “a damning indictment of a fast-rising program's willingness to flaunt NCAA rules and standards in paying players money for on-field successes,” according to USA Today.

Some players earned $2,000 annually, and some stars earned up to $25,000 through three ways:

— An assistant coach, often former OSU assistant coach Joe DeForest, who coached from 2001-11. Former defensive tackle Brad Girtman said DeForest gave him a debit card loaded with $5,000 he came to campus in 2003.

— Boosters would deliver money in several different ways, like placing cash in their per-diem envelope, which usually holds $15 for meals, or in their lockers the day after a game.

— Fake jobs set up by boosters, wealthy alumni and even an assistant coach like DeForest. Former running back Seymour Shaw said of DeForest: "We'd go over to the house, and [cornerback Darrent Williams] would fake like he's starting up a lawn mower… so people could see him. (Then he'd] cut it off. [He'd] start up a Weed Eater. Cut it off. [For that he'd get] $400, $500, $600." DeForest said he compensated players "fair market value" for their work, per SI.

In a statement to SI, Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said:

"Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. 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."

Sources: USA Today, Sports Illustrated