October 07, 2009
It hasn't taken long for more information to begin trickling out about the sudden suspension of Oklahoma State's thoroughbred receiver, Dez Bryant, who got the boot today for "fail[ing] to openly disclose to the NCAA the full details of his interaction with a former NFL player not affiliated with OSU." The former NFL player in question: One "Neon" Deion Sanders.
ESPN Radio's Doug Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State basketball player, said today that Cowboy coaches told him last year that Bryant would "disappear" for days at a time to train with Primetime -- who operates his own camp for NFL hopefuls, "Prime U," -- in Dallas, and found Sanders evasive when they tried to contact him about his relationship with Bryant. Unfortunately for OSU, the NCAA didn't find the story so hard to track down:
Bryant, an All-American who is ranked ninth overall on Mel Kiper Jr.'s most recent Big Board, was ruled ineligible by the school after lying to the NCAA when he was asked if he had visited Deion Sanders' home and had worked out with him.
A person close to the situation said Bryant will tell the NCAA in seeking an appeal of his ineligibility that he did in fact visit Sanders' home in Texas in May, that he jogged with him at a training facility and that they had lunch, for which he paid.
Bryant is planning to fly or drive to Indianapolis to tell the NCAA his story as soon as Monday, the source said. Sanders, with whom Bryant will say he had a personal relationship, told the NCAA that he had visited with Bryant.
The twist: From Sanders' detailed account in the New York Times, nothing in that relationship constituted an NCAA violation -- if Bryant had told the truth about it when the Association came calling:
Sanders said the suspension stemmed from a day he and Bryant spent together last summer. They met at an athletics center in Frisco, Tex., and later had dinner at Sanders’s home in Prosper, Tex. Sanders said the N.C.A.A. asked Bryant if he had ever been in Sanders’s home and Bryant said no when in fact he had.
"The kid panicked, man," Sanders said. "He panicked. He thought it was a violation to come over to my house and it isn't. He said no, that he hadn't been over here, and I said, yeah, he had been over here. I don't lie and he panicked."
And thus ends, for the time-being, one of the country's bright college careers, on a white lie. Whether or not he's allowed to return to Oklahoma State, Bryant is a virtual lock for next April's draft, where this snafu and his relationship with Sanders in general is going to wreak havoc on his stock far more than any aspect of his sensational game: Sanders is also a close, personal adviser and occasional spokesman for ex-Texas Tech receiver and noted hold-out Michael Crabtree, who today became the final member of the 2009 draft class to agree to a contract with his team, a mere four-and-a-half weeks into the regular season. A year ago, when they were taking turns assaulting the Big 12 record book, the comparisons between Bryant and Crabtree were all positive; now, even if he gets the chance to make his mark on a football field again this fall, the first questions Bryant will have to answer next spring will all be about hanging out with Primetime.