STILLWATER, Okla. —
“In a way I guess I should thank you,” SI quoted Mike Holder, OSU athletic director, as saying after being informed of the magazine’s findings. “Because our intent is to take this information and to investigate and do something about it.”
Several players and football staff named in the magazine’s series denied accusations made against them by former players. Prominent among them was Joe DeForest, an associate head coach at OSU during the decade investigated by SI. DeForest left OSU two years ago for a similar position at West Virginia University.
Brad Girtman, a defensive tackle for OSU during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, told SI that DeForest would discuss cash payments with players and that “your stats definitely dictated how much you were getting.”
Chris Wright, a defensive back from 2001 to 2003, said he saw DeForest hand stacks of bills to certain players. “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,’ Wright told the magazine. He also said he did not take money.
SI quoted DeForest as denying the accusations by Girtman, Wright and other former OSU players.
“I have never paid a player for on-field performance,” DeForest told the magazine. “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.”
Sports Illustrated said a culture of winning at any cost permeated the Oklahoma State football program during the Miles era of 2001-2005, and continued under his successor, Gundy. Miles is now the head coach at Louisiana State University; Gundy, an assistant under Miles, remains in charge of the OSU football program.
The magazine said that paying players, academic dishonesty, tolerating drug abuse and recruiting players with sex plays into the behavior often suspected by cynics of big-time college sports.