Okla. State athletic director apologizes
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder apologized to his fellow athletic directors around the Big 12 Conference on Monday in advance of what’s expected to be a scathing expose of the football program by Sports Illustrated.
“I apologize to all the athletic directors in the conference for what’s about to happen, for what’s about to be said about a member institution,” Holder said at a news conference without taking questions. “That reflects on everyone, all our brothers and peers, we’re very remorseful about that.”
The school announced over the weekend that SI had notified it of the upcoming series, which details transgressions by the football program starting in 2001. Oklahoma State said it has notified the NCAA and launched its own investigation.
Sports Illustrated, in a news release sent Monday, gave highlights of the five-part series that will begin today with a posting on SI.com. The magazine says it conducted interviews with more than 60 former Oklahoma State players who played for the school from 2001-10.
Among the allegations of misconduct and potential NCAA violations are:
— An Oklahoma State assistant coach paid cash bonuses to players of up to $500 for performance.
— Oklahoma State boosters and at least two assistant coaches funneled money to players and provided sham jobs for which players were paid.
— Tutors and other school personnel completed school work for players and professors gave passing grades for little or no work.
— The program’s drug policy was selectively enforced, allowing some star players to go unpunished for repeated positive tests.
— Some members of a hostess program used by the football coaching staff during the recruitment of players had sex with recruits.
LSU coach Les Miles was head coach at Oklahoma State from 2001-04, when the program began to emerge from years of mediocrity. Current coach Mike Gundy took over in 2005 and the Cowboys have grown into a Big 12 power.
“Unfortunately, we’ve got something out there on the horizon that we’ll have to deal with,” Holder said. “I don’t know a lot of specifics. I know a little bit. I know enough to be very concerned. As the athletic director and an alumnus of the university, I don’t want it to be true. We pride ourselves on doing things the right way around here.”
Gundy, trying to focus on preparing the No. 13 Cowboys for their home opener on Saturday against Lamar, said he was confident the proper steps would be taken by the university.
“I’m going to guess that once we get all the information and we see what’s out there, then our administration, our people inside, will look at it and we’ll see where we made mistakes,” Gundy said. “And we’ll try to make ourselves better and we’ll correct it and then we’ll move forward. And I would hope that there will be some of it that we’ll say, ‘I’m not sure, it could go one way or the other.’ That’s really the best way I can put it. But I think the university is looking forward to seeing the information and seeing how we can make ourselves better from it.”
The Oklahoman reported, citing an unidentified source, on Saturday that former assistant coach Joe DeForest is accused in the story of running a bonus program, paying players for big plays as recently as 2011. DeForest now works as an assistant coach at West Virginia for head coach Dana Holgorsen, who is a former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
West Virginia released a statement Saturday that did not mention DeForest and said it had “launched an internal review to ensure the coach’s full compliance to NCAA rules while at West Virginia,” while also contacting the NCAA.
“While our assistant football coach has denied the allegations, it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here,” athletic director Oliver Luck said.
Miles has said he didn’t know of any improprieties while he was the Oklahoma State coach.
“I can tell you this: We have always done things right,” he said after LSU’s game Saturday night in Baton Rouge
Holder vowed to cooperate fully with any further investigations.
“We’re all committed to playing by the rules and doing things the right way here and for people to say that’s not what’s happening is very disturbing,” Holder said. “Our goal is to separate fact from fiction and then we can start dealing with it. We’ve already notified the NCAA and they’re going to assign an investigator to this. We’ll reach out and get someone to stand with that investigator and go through the facts and at the end of the day, we’ll come to some conclusions and we’ll deal with those, prop ourselves back up, polish off that OSU brand and move on down the road.”