An explosive report has implicated several Oklahoma State football players in a payment scandal that has the potential to damage both the school's and its former coach's reputation.
The Sports Illustrated report, the first of a five-part series on the OSU program, alleged that several players received money from boosters from 2001 to 2011.
Joe DeForest, now associate head coach at West Virginia, is in the middle of allegations that payments were made to athletes during his time at Oklahoma State.
While NCAA rules allow a per diem of $15 for home games and an amount equivalent to what an employee receives on a work trip for away games, some of the amounts given were much larger than the allowed amount. The cash awards ranged from $2,000 to as much as $25,000, depending on the performance of the athlete. Some players did not receive anything at all.
There were special rates for special plays: $75-$100 for tackles, up to $250 for sacks, and as much as $500 for plays involving special teams. The payments, according to former players, were set by assistant coach Joe DeForest, who now serves as the associate head coach for West Virginia.
"It depends on who the player was, how many yards they ran for, how many catches they made, how many touchdowns they scored, how many tackles ... It all depends on performance," former defensive back Thomas Wright told Sports Illustrated.
DeForest, however, denied those allegations, claiming that no payments were made. "I have never paid a player for on-field performance. I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity," he told Sports Illustrated.
Former offensive lineman Russell Okung and running back Tatum Bell also denied the accusations, saying that the sources were not credible.
— Russell Okung (@BDR76) September 10, 2013
This SI piece is a trip. Nobody took money or had as people taking test for them. This is stupid as hell. OSU is like family to me — tatum bell (@tspeedtx) September 10, 2013
However, some of the players themselves won't keep quiet about the payments. One of the most vocal was Darrent Williams, who, former linebacker Rodrick Johnson said, would show off the money to teammates. Williams was killed in 2007 while a player for the Denver Broncos.
These allegations are in stark contrast to Bob Simmons' tenure as head coach from 1995 to 2000, when boosters were not allowed inside the locker rooms. Miles allegedly took down the barriers and gave players more leeway in contacting supporters; Calvin Mickens would call up a local businessman and ask for money, receiving $500 for each visit. Others would give high school commits a "signing bonus" of between $400 to $500.
For its part, the Oklahoma State University administration issued a statement, saying that it was committed to investigate the accusations once it comes up with more details.
Whether this latest issue will end up with OSU getting a slap on the wrist or a death penalty similar to one given to Southern Methodist is still up in the air. IBTimes will keep its readers posted once fresh details come in.
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