Sports Illustrated’s yearlong investigation into the Oklahoma State football program was finally released Tuesday, as the magazine, through a story on its website, detailed various payments to players by coaches and boosters, a violation of NCAA rules.
“The Money,” the first installment of Sports Illustrated’s story titled “The Dirty Game,” claimed some Oklahoma State players were paid based on an incentive system set up by assistant coach Joe DeForest, who is now at West Virginia, and supported by several other assistants, including Larry Porter, who is at Texas.
The payments, which were given from 2001-2011, were doled out based on play on the field. Better play meant more pay. The money was delivered by low-level staff members or left in lockers. Sometimes players were given money from boosters while walking to the stadium.
The story also quotes several players as saying they were paid for job they didn’t do. They also were paid more for jobs than the jobs were worth.
Running back Seymore Shaw (2002 to '04) told SI that now deceased defensive back Darrent Williams was paid by DeForest for work he didn’t do.
"We'd go over to the house, and [Williams] would fake like he's starting up a lawn mower ... so people could see him," Shaw told the magazine. "[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 told the magazine he paid players far-market value for their work, however, the Oklahoma State compliance office said it never approved players to work for DeForest.
Most of the allegations took place from 2001-07 and the story claimed Les Miles allowed boosters to have contact with his players and started the subculture of pay for performance.
Miles denied any knowledge of wrongdoing while he was the head coach from 2001-2004.
"I don't know of any improprieties while I was coaching there," Miles said to reporters following the Tigers' 56-17 win over UAB on Saturday. "We always did things right."
Sports Illustrated said it interviewed 64 players and an unnamed assistant coach who reportedly said, "I knew this day was coming, and today is that day. It was a matter of time.”
Monday, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder told media that the report would be taken seriously and that the university had already contacted the NCAA. The university will assign someone to work with the NCAA to sort out the allegations in the story.
“Our goal is to separate fact from fiction and then we can start dealing with it,” Holder said. “We’re not going to try and cover anything up. I’m the guy in charge and ultimately the buck stops at my door. I’m willing to accept responsibility for whatever is being said.”
Sports Illustrated will release the other four parts of the series online in the coming days.