Oklahoma State's rise as a college football power over the last 12 years was fueled by rampant and widespread violations of NCAA rules, including academic fraud that benefitted wide receiver Dez Bryant among others, a Sports Illustrated investigative report alleges.
Bryant was named a member of the second-team academic All-Big 12 squad in 2008, which was laughable to some of his teammates and coaches, according the story.
"You didn't have no choice but to laugh at it," former Oklahoma State safety Victor Johnson said.
Other players received systematic help designed to keep them eligible to play, part of a culture than emphasized football over academics.
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The pay-for-performance program allegedly began under former head coach Les Miles, now at LSU, and continued under current head coach Mike Gundy. Assistant coach Joe DeForest, now the associate head coach at West Virginia, oversaw the program, which one former player said awarded $50 for a quarterback hurry, $75-100 for a tackle, $200-250 for a sack and up to $500 for special-teams plays.
DeForest and Larry Porter, now the running backs coach at Texas, are also alleged to have given cash directly to players. Boosters also provided payments to players in a variety of ways, including free rent and overpayment for minor tasks. Some players claim to have received up to $10,000.
Over the coming week, Sports Illustrated will reveal four more pieces of the wide-ranging series, which will allege academic misconduct, double-standards regarding drug use by prominent players and sexual favors provided by female recruiting hostesses.
Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder met with the media Monday and said an NCAA investigation into the allegations would be forthcoming. Holder also apologized to athletic directors in the Big 12 ahead of the series' release.
"We're all committed to playing by the rules and doing things the right way, and for people to say that is not what's happening is very disturbing. Our goal is to separate fact from fiction, and then we can start dealing with it," Holder said.
Gundy refused to discuss specific allegations during his press conference Monday, but defended his tenure, which includes a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl bid during the 2011 season.
"I will say that we -- our staff and myself -- are focused on our team doing the right things. I'm very proud about what we've accomplished here on and off the field and our goal has always been to take young people from where their families have gotten them and make them better over a four- or five-year period."
If anything, the Oklahoma State allegations would seem to reinforce the notion that such conduct is merely the cost of doing business in major college football.