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Oklahoma's Tiny Gallon defends himself against allegations

Jeff Eisenberg
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When allegations surfaced in March that a financial adviser wired $3,000 to Keith "Tiny" Gallon's family last August, the obvious assumption was that Jeffrey Hausinger sent the money in hopes of one day representing the Oklahoma star.

Turns out the story may not be quite that clear-cut.

In his first public comments about the situation since the story broke, Gallon told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com that his mother needed the money to get his high school transcript released so that he could attend Oklahoma. The family apparently was behind on its tuition payments to Oak Hill Academy, the boarding school the highly touted 6-foot-9 big man attended in Virginia.

"Oak Hill wouldn't release my transcript under no circumstances and my mother had to do what she had to do," Gallon told Zagoria. "It wasn't an agent, it was a financial adviser. She got the money from him, got my transcript out of Oak Hill Academy. I got a single mother. When she got the money, she paid the financial adviser back through my freshmen year."

It's certainly possible that some or all of Gallon's explanation is true, but what that doesn't account for are the phone records linking former Oklahoma assistant Oronde Taliaferro to Hausinger. Gallon makes it seem as if this was no different than seeking a loan from the bank, but a college assistant coach doesn't typically exchange 41 calls and 25 text messages with your average bank teller.

And if an assistant coach has any involvement in putting $3,000 in a recruit's bank account, that's an obvious violation, whether there were good intentions or not.

The money exchanged between Hausinger and Gallon and the phone records linking Oklahoma to the mess have prompted the school and the NCAA to investigate the situation. The potential violations are serious enough that one national columnist recommended this week that the NCAA give the Sooners the death penalty, pointing out the program couldn't finish its probation from transgressions under Kelvin Sampson without another scandal.

Gallon announced last month he would leave Oklahoma and turn pro after averaging 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds as a freshman last season. The projected second-round pick told Zagoria he would have preferred to remain at Oklahoma at least one more season, but he didn't feel that option was available to him as a result of the impending NCAA investigation.

"Basically, that was the reason," Gallon said. "We still haven't gotten an answer from the NCAA so (Oklahoma coach) Jeff Capel and my mother talked about it. He was like, ‘He might as well come out. They're going to wait this long' because they (the NCAA) were supposed to get back to me in a week but it was like two months. So we just came out and that was my decision."

The loss of Gallon is just one aspect of a devastating offseason for an Oklahoma program already reeling from a disappointing 13-18 finish last season. Star guards Willie Warren and Tommy Mason-Griffin turned pro even though the former's NBA draft stock plummeted during a disappointing sophomore season and the latter is unlikely to be selected at all.

Asked about the NCAA investigation he's leaving behind at Oklahoma, Gallon said "nothing" should happen to the Sooners.

Oklahoma fans surely appreciate the sentiment, but it doesn't sound realistic.

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