STILLWATER, Okla. — Boosters and assistant coaches at Oklahoma State handed out tens of thousands of dollars to players for at least a decade as the football program grew into a national power under coaches Les Miles and then Mike Gundy, according to a Sports Illustrated article released Tuesday.
The article, which quoted several former players by name, said players received $2,000 to $10,000 annually, with a few stars receiving $25,000 or more. Eight players told SI they received cash, while 29 others were named by teammates as taking money. The transgressions cited stretched from 2001 until at least 2011, the magazine said.
Oklahoma State said it has notified the NCAA about the report and launched its own investigation.
Sports Illustrated said its five-part series included interviews with more than 60 former players who played for Oklahoma State from 2001-10. Among the allegations of misconduct and potential NCAA violations are:
• An Oklahoma State assistant coach, Joe DeForest, paid cash bonuses to players of up to $500 for performance.
• Boosters and assistant coaches funneled money to players and provided sham jobs for which players were paid.
• Tutors and school personnel completed school work for players and professors gave passing grades for little or no work.
• The program’s drug policy was selectively enforced, allowing some players to go unpunished for repeated positive tests.
Some members of a hostess program used by the football coaching staff had sex with recruits.
NCAA rules bar boosters from providing cash or other benefits based on athletic performance. NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter declined comment when asked about Oklahoma State, citing the organization’s longstanding policy.
SI reported that eight former Cowboys told the magazine they had received cash payments and 29 others were named by teammates as having also taken money.
Former player Calvin Mickens said he was handed cash in the locker room by a stranger after Oklahoma State’s 2005 season-opening victory, a game in which he played well.
“I was like, Wow, this is the life!” Mickens told SI. “I’m 18, playing football and I just got $200.”
He said he got money at other times, including $800 later that season after the game at Texas A&M, and saw teammates getting similar handouts. Former defensive tackle Brad Girtman said he saw star players get “monster payments,” while he once received $500 from a member of the football staff.
Girtman said the rates were told to him by DeForest, who ran special teams and the secondary under Miles and then was an associate head coach under Gundy, the current head coach, from 2005-11.
Girtman also said he recalled DeForest handing him a debit card in 2003 with $5,000 on it and that it was periodically refilled. DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, the running backs coach from 2002-04, also made payments directly to players, SI reported.
Miles has said he didn’t know of any improprieties while he was the Oklahoma State coach.
“I can tell you this: We have always done things right,” he said after LSU’s game Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.
Mitchell has surgery
Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell is expected to recover for the start of the 2014 season after having surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Mitchell, a junior who was No. 9 Georgia’s top returning receiver, had surgery Tuesday after tearing the ligament in the Bulldogs’ loss at Clemson on Aug. 31. He will miss the remainder of the season.