Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Report: Numerous Dallas-area high school players took cash while at Oklahoma State
Numerous football players who attended Dallas-Fort Worth high schools were implicated in Sports Illustrated's expose on Oklahoma State football.
Part one of a five-part series investigating the Oklahoma State football program was posted at SI.com.
The 3,377 word expose that alleges OSU boosters and assistant coaches funneled cash payments to players in return for big plays on the field and shady employment opportunities.
In all, seven players admitted they received cash payment and 29 others were implicated by others to have received money. Notable players implicated include:
Tatum Bell (2000 to '03), wide receiver Adarius Bowman (2005 to '07), defensive end Victor DeGrate (2003 to '06), quarterback Josh Fields (2001 to '03) and safety Vernon Grant (2002 to '04).
Bell and DeGrate are both Dallas DeSoto High School graduates. Grant, who died in a car accident in 2005, was a Duncanville High School graduate.
Responding on Twitter, Bell wrote: "Folks gonna believe whatever they want. I'm not trying to convince nobody. But I do know while I was in school no one took no extras. ... This SI piece is a trip. Nobody took money or had people taking test for them. This is stupid as hell. OSU is like family to me"
From the report:
Some players received $2,000 annually and others around $10,000, multiple players told SI; a few stars allegedly received $25,000 or more.
Former OSU defensive tackle Brad Gitman said star players received the biggest payouts. He recalls seeing a booster hand defensive back Darrent Williams – a Fort Worth O.D. Wyatt High School graduate who died in a 2007 shooting – an envelope after a game in which he returned a 63-yard interception for a touchdown.
But this envelope was fatter, and it was packed with bills. "I saw that one," says Girtman, who played in Stillwater from 2003 to '04. "I was like, Holy s---." To that point, Girtman says, the most he had received for his performance was $500, from a member of the football staff. "I was getting paid on the low end," Girtman says. "Some of those guys got monster payments."
The report also claims players were given cushy jobs where they would receive large cash payments from boosters and community members for little to no work – including jobs related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium in 2007.
(Calvin) Mickens says he was paid for the entire summer but worked at most a week. "I'd sign in and I'd go hide," he says. (Rodrick) Johnson says, "I'd show up, sign in, leave," sometimes rubbing dirt on his white T-shirt to make it look as if he'd worked before signing out. (Artrell) Woods says that he and at least 10 others were also paid for work they didn't do.
The $174 million renovation of the stadium and other athletic facilities was an essential element in the building of the Oklahoma State program. So too were illicit payments, players say. This arrangement shrewdly married the two.
The report singles out Joe DeForest – special teams/secondary coach under Les Miles from 2001-2004, and associate head coach/safties/special teams coach under Mike Gundy from 2005-2011 – as the coordinator of player payments.
DeForest, now the associate head coach and special teams coordinator at West Virginia, says, "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."
The report also indicates that Texas Longhorns running backs coach Larry Porter, former running backs coach at OSU from 2002-2004, made payments to players.
In a statement Porter, now the running backs coach at Texas, says, "I've been made aware of the accusations, and I'm disappointed because they are all absolutely not true. None of that ever happened."
OSU president Burns Hargis released a statement following the allegations.
"Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action," said OSU President Burns Hargis. "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."
The report concludes that the money given to players was spent on basic essentials, furthering the debate of whether college football players should be reimbursed by the NCAA.
At Oklahoma State the bonus system, the booster and coach payouts, and the bogus jobs provided players with money that was seldom spent on extravagances. One or two standouts bought a new car or expensive jewelry, team members say, but the vast majority of the players used the extra cash to purchase everyday items -- food, clothing, tickets to a movie. "There were some athletes who were almost starving," says Carter. "Wherever the money came from, they were like, Yeah, I'll take that."
Part two of the report is set to be released Wednesday, focusing on academic fraud at OSU.