"Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action. 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." Statement from OSU President Burns Hargis

Oklahoma State University Appoints Veteran NCAA Enforcement Officer To Lead Review Of Alleged Football Misconduct

Oklahoma State University (OSU) President Burns Hargis and the OSU/A&M Board of Regents jointly announced today the appointment of a former NCAA Director of Enforcement to lead an independent review of alleged misconduct in the OSU football program. The purported NCAA violations described in a series of articles published by Sports Illustrated occurred primarily between 2001 and 2007.

“While the articles do not implicate any current coaches or players to have direct involvement in any alleged misconduct, we have a responsibility to confront these disturbing reports head on and with complete transparency,” Hargis said.

“With the strong support of the OSU Board of Regents, I have authorized a thorough and expeditious investigation. To assure that the investigation is unwavering in its pursuit of the truth, the university has retained Charles E. Smrt, a veteran NCAA enforcement officer and one of the foremost experts in the compliance field, to serve as lead independent investigator,” Hargis said.

Tucker Link, chairman of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, said, “The OSU Regents treat this matter with the utmost seriousness and fully endorse the selection of Mr. Smrt to conduct the investigation. We must determine, based on credible sources and confirmed facts, whether the claims made in a series of Sports Illustrated articles have any truth to them.

“But let there be no doubt, the OSU Board of Regents does not and will not condone illegal, immoral and unethical conduct or conduct that violates applicable rules,” Link said. “We will work with President Hargis to take appropriate action based on what the investigation determines should the claims prove to have any merit.”

Smrt said, “I appreciate the unfettered access and cooperation that President Hargis has offered to help me carry out my review. He has asked me to pursue the facts wherever they may lead. I assured him that I will do so, and that I will conduct the review with care and urgency.”

Smrt is President and Founder of The Compliance Group, a Lenexa, Kansas, based consulting firm that specializes in compliance audits and the review of information concerning potential NCAA violations. Prior to founding The Compliance Group in 1999, Smrt was on the NCAA enforcement staff for almost 18 years as Director of Enforcement and Director of Enforcement Supervisor for the NCAA in Overland Park, Kansas.

Mike Holder, Vice President of Athletics at OSU, said that even though some have called into question aspects of the story, he applauds the Board of Regents and President Hargis for undertaking a comprehensive review. “We welcome the scrutiny,” Holder said.

OSU’s Head Football Coach Mike Gundy said, “I support a quick and complete review. I am proud of our football program. And I can assure everyone we are committed as coaches and staff to winning the right way.”

President Hargis Addresses SI Series

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis Discusses SI Series on KOSU

OSU Associate Athletic Director/Academics Dr. Marilyn Middlebrook Discusses Academic Services

Learn more about academic services for student-athletes

“In Monday’s news conference, I apologized to our fans and mentioned phone calls I had made to other Big 12 athletic directors prior to the release of the first article from Sports Illustrated. To clarify, my apology was in regards to the negative publicity that was coming our way. My apology was in no way an admission of wrong doing by OSU Athletics.” - OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder

OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY COMMENTS ON PLANNED SERIES OF ARTICLES BY SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SUGGESTING INAPPROPRIATE ACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES WITH ITS FOOTBALL PROGRAM PRIMARILY BETWEEN 2001 AND 2007

Sports Illustrated has informed Oklahoma State University that it plans to publish a series of articles beginning this week about alleged misconduct in the OSU football program starting in 2001. Sports Illustrated advised that the articles are based on interviews with former players, coaches and staff members.

In meetings with OSU officials, Sports Illustrated outlined allegations involving inappropriate activities and actions, the vast majority of which occurred between 2001 and 2007. The allegations outlined do not involve any current coaches or players.

“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.”

Sports Illustrated did not provide OSU all the specifics of the accusations, or the names of those it interviewed. And it appeared some of the accusations are based on hearsay. Once the stories are published and OSU has more details, it will investigate them thoroughly with the assistance of an independent investigator. OSU has contacted the NCAA and advised it of the accusations described.

OSU Vice President of Athletics Mike Holder said, “We are shocked by the allegations raised about our football program. We take the allegations seriously. Whether they have merit or not, we don’t know. But we will find out.

“Our athletic department understands the high expectations OSU President Burns Hargis and the OSU Board of Regents have set for us. Our coaches and staff understand we will not tolerate any violations that compromise our pursuit of excellence, the highest of ethical standards, and full compliance with NCAA rules and regulations,” Holder said.

He continued, “We are committed to playing by the rules on and off the field. We strive to be a source of pride for our fans, our university and the Big 12 Conference.”

In closing, Holder expressed confidence in Coach Gundy and the staff and their commitment to the highest standards. “Our most important mission is doing all we can to prepare our student athletes to be successful and productive citizens throughout their lives,” Holder said.

Sports Illustrated notified OSU officials on August 28 of the planned series, which they said has been in the works for almost a year. Senior writer George Dohrmann and executive editor B.J. Schecter came to Stillwater the week of September 2 to provide details of the series and said reporter Thayer Evans also was part of the reporting team.

What Others Are Saying

Editorial: OSU stands proud in week-long test
“Everyone associated with the school can make up their own minds on the quality of Sports Illustrated's reporting, but the way the school has responded to the challenge has been admirable, giving a new luster to the Cowboy brand.”

Read full Tulsa World editorial

Boone Pickens
"@SInow Disappointing in your reporting. Never asked one important question: What’s happening at #OKState today? http://bit.ly/13HMdkx "

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The Oklahoman Editorial
"Oklahoma State football program can learn, improve from magazine portrait"

Read Full Oklahoman Editorial

Tracy Holland
"Tracy Holland, who was Woods’ coach at UCO, provided a statement Monday to the Tulsa World.

Said the statement, “I have had a unique experience with Oklahoma State football and have been able to see the program run by coach (Les) Miles and later coach Gundy in a variety of ways. First, as a father, my son (Chase) played for these men... and was special teams captain his senior year. I can’t be more proud of the type of man he is and how he turned out. I am very grateful for the influence these coaches had on his life.

“Second, I experienced their program as a high school coach and how they supported our program and how they recruited our kids.

“Finally, I experienced their program as a head college coach in this state and (saw) their staff at conferences and out on the recruiting trail. We also took several of their players as transfers and even hired one former OSU (graduate assistant) on our staff. I never saw or experienced anything but integrity and class from all members of their staff, especially coach Gundy.

“As far as our OSU transfers, practically all were excited about their opportunity to continue to play, but were also grateful for their time at OSU. That is not always the case with transfers, but our OSU kids were great to have. I have always had nothing but the utmost respect for coach Gundy and his staff and felt like they did a great job with and for their players.”"

Tulsa World

John Curry
"For the record, I taught at OSU from 2005 to 2011, and I taught a majority of the football players in that time frame. The only thing I can speak to specifically is academics. I taught EVERY high profile football player in that time. And I was NEVER pressured to pass them. In fact, it was the exact opposite. If a player wasn't performing in the classroom, I called the Academic Center AND the advisers or position coaches, and in EVERY SINGLE CASE I was told, "If they're not doing the work, then fail them. They need to learn." I had Coach Gundy step in my class doing class checks to make sure his players were there. I sat in the Academic Center and watched the tutors with the athletes. They never, EVER did the work for them. Like I said, I can mainly speak to academics; that's what I dealt with. But I can also tell you that there is a great difference between those student/athletes who are defending the program and those who are accusing the program. The accusers were marginal students at best. Those defending the program were excellent men in and out of the classroom.

Just one man's experience."

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Jamie Blatnick
"I spent 5 years in Stillwater and never experienced any of these allegations... I'm interested to see who they got their information from
I worked for John Talley for 4 years and he is the most honest man I've been blessed to work with, true blue collar hard working Christian "

Twitter

Andrew McGee
""If anyone attended OSU as an athlete and wasn’t successful, it was because doing the right thing was too hard for them or other things were more important.

“The standard there was set high, but was by no means unreachable. They placed not only effective people, but people of integrity in positions needed for each and every athlete to be successful the right way.

“There are more success stories of players who were impacted and left on the path of success than there are on the other side. The culture of that place allowed coaches to not have to compromise. It was a culture of ‘buying in’. Either you bought in to the direction of the program or you were weeded out because of the choices you made to rebel through ignorance and selfishness.

“Some of the individuals I've noticed being quoted are guys I've had specific conversations with, and I can guarantee that if they were injured, failed a drug test, or had academic issues, the reason they didn't stay around is because they didn't respond the right way when punishment was needed. Accountability was a word I heard constantly there.

“OSU had an invitation of reconciliation. Even when guys did wrong before, grace was given following punishment to establish discipline. The ones who are bitter are the ones who took for granted the grace given even when they had second and third chances.

“I was injured in 2009 while playing for OSU. My injury was two fractured vertebrae, which was considered being career ending at the time. OSU still viewed me as part of the team, they didn't treat me as an outcast. They held me accountable to still work hard and get my degree. They could have exiled me, but they welcomed me as long as I was willing to continue to meet the standard of the team. They assisted me with meeting the standard by understanding the difficulty of my situation. I was never given anything freely, even while I was injured. I was motivated and challenged and I embraced it. I continued to attend practice and meetings.."

Andre Sexton
"Thankful, grateful, honored, and appreciative are a few words I would use to describe the full football scholarship awarded to me by Oklahoma State University!

I had the pleasure of being recruited by Coach Joe Deforest and member of Coach Mike Gundy's first recruiting class. From the time I was recruited to my graduation not once was I offered money to play. Oklahoma State's coaching staff, strength team, and academic services help put me in the right positions to succeed on/off the field, and once my career was done ! When I needed help in any field I had a supporting cast I could rely on. I graduated with my degree and have moved on to the next stage of my life like many former players successfully.

This article is focusing on extremely small group of players that were given an opportunity to continue their football dream, but feel cheated and refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes they have made. What better time for a group of disgruntled players that left the university for one reason or another to talk down on an amazing university that has worked the right way to put itself on the map and help young student athletes succeed not only on the field but in life.

I am troubled that anyone would try to bring down such a great organization, but I'm at peace because I know I was apart of something great and I know we did it the right way. Always proud to be a football alum for alma mater Osu and will always bleed the brightest orange in America!"

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Billy Bajema
"I never once during my time there saw for myself any kind of extra payment going on with an envelope the way it is described in that article," he said. "I never saw a booster handing out envelopes on an airplane. I never saw them walking up and down aisles. I never saw any of that. It's all news to me. If that stuff is true, it's the best-kept secret ever." "I never once during my time there saw for myself any kind of extra payment going on with an envelope the way it is described in that article," he said. "I never saw a booster handing out envelopes on an airplane. I never saw them walking up and down aisles. I never saw any of that. It's all news to me. If that stuff is true, it's the best-kept secret ever."

Tulsa World

David Paulsen
"Sports Illustrated is accusing John Talley, a great, kind hearted man who speaks of God every Wednesday after practices and uses players to speak to small children and, in this previous summer, taking the team to Del Reno for Tornado damage cleanup. He is one of most truly selfless and encouraging people I've ever met and he only gives credit where credit is due. The ex players that are trying to put him at fault should be ashamed...seriously...anyone who has met him knows how he is only going to pay you for hard work that you earned...and that's called a "Job" SI, get a life... — with Andrew McGee and 4 others."

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Jamie Blatnick
"I spent 5 years in Stillwater and never experienced any of these allegations... I'm interested to see who they got their information from/I worked for John Talley for 4 years and he is the most honest man I've been blessed to work with, true blue collar hard working Christian"

Twitter

Linda Cavanaugh
"Important to remember SI allegations against OSU are just that. Wait to hear detailed response from the Cowboys before judging."

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Darren Rovell
"Kudos to Oklahoma St AD Mike Holder for a tremendous statement ahead of the SI allegations. Clinic on how you do it. Pledge transparency."

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Richetti Jones
"That's what really grinds my gears because Oklahoma State is far from dirty, period. One of my biggest things is to be a classy Cowboy. Be classy in everything that you do. That's one of our slogans that coach Gundy always talks about and he preaches and he drills that into our heads." now. "I really feel like if Oklahoma State was the same Oklahoma State as old, when nobody really cared and we didn't go to bowl games and we got beat by everybody, this article wouldn't even be an issue. Nobody would even care. But now that we are a nationally recognized program ... people want to tear all the work down that we have built.."

Tulsa World