Russell OkungSeahawks tackle Russell Okung earned All-America honors at Oklahoma State in 2008 and '09. (Getty Images)
Russell Okung doesn't say much. The Pro Bowl tackle for the Seattle Seahawks has been quiet all his life, and especially so when it comes to the press.
"I don’t like to do media," Okung said from Seattle on Tuesday morning. "I’d rather just focus on football. But I consider myself a purveyor of truth, and on this I couldn’t stay quiet."
Okung was referring to a Sports Illustrated investigation outlining a list of allegations against his former football program at Oklahoma State. The charges ranged from academic improprieties to payouts for on-field performance to sex for recruits to drug use among players.
Okung, who says he was never contacted by Sports Illustrated, said he never witnessed any rules violations while at Oklahoma State.
The investigation took 10 months, according to the magazine, and included interviews with 64 football players who played from 1999 to 2011. Okung was one of the best players of that era, winning Big 12 offensive lineman of the year in 2009 and earning All-America honors in 2008 and '09. He graduated and was drafted sixth overall by the Seahawks in the 2010 NFL draft.
When the story came out, Okung started seeking out former teammates.
"They’re all just as shocked as I am," Okung said.
Asked how many teammates he called, Okung said, "Plenty."
Seattle teammate Michael Bowie, who played for Oklahoma State in 2011 but was dismissed in 2012 for a violation of team rules, said, "I never heard or saw at any time while I was at OSU any of the allegations in the article."
Okung didn’t just offer a blanket denial.
"Ask me anything," he said.
Twelve former Cowboys told SI they participated in some form of academic misconduct. Asked if someone ever offered to take a test for him, Okung said, "Never."
Asked if he ever witnessed any form of cheating, he said, "Never. I’ve never seen a test taken for anyone. There’s no way to cheat. You have T.A.’s (teaching assistants) walking around everywhere."
Eight former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments. Asked if he was ever offered or given money by a booster, or received money for performance by a coach, Okung said, "Never."
Some players said a "small number" of women in the Orange Pride hostess group had sex with recruits. Asked if he was ever offered sex as a recruit, Okung said, "Never."
Joe DeForest, one of the coaches at the center of the story (who has since moved on to West Virginia), was Okung’s chief recruiter.
"[DeForest] and Gundy sat me down during my visit," Okung said, "and said, ‘What you’re going to do here is get your degree.'"
A lot of the allegations came in the Les Miles era, which preceded Okung’s time in Stillwater. Asked if he heard about any malfeasance before his arrival, Okung said, "All I know is that when Gundy came in, he was there because he loved the school and he stood for integrity. That’s all I know."
The school itself has responded to the story:
"Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action," president Burns Hargis told SI. "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."