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 program grew into a Big 12 Conference 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 some players received $2,000 to $10,000 annually, with a few standouts 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.
Oklahoma State officials said they notified the NCAA about the report and started their own investigation.
Sports Illustrated said its five-part series included interviews with more than 60 ex-players who competed for the Cowboys from 2001 to 2010. Among the allegations of misconduct and potential NCAA violations:
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• A then-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 to players 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 to comment when asked about Oklahoma State.
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.”
Mickens said he got money at other times, including $800 later that season after the game at Texas A&M.
Miles, who coaches Louisiana State, has said he didn’t know of any improprieties while he was Oklahoma State coach, from 2001-04.
• No. 1 Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, visits sixth-ranked Texas A&M, featuring 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, on Saturday.
Texas A&M was the only team to beat the Crimson Tide last season, as quarterback Manziel led the Aggies to a 29-24 road victory.
CBS plans to have a camera focused solely on Manziel for the entirety of Saturday’s game. Network officials call it the “Johnny Cam.”