Report: OK St. had drug issues

Updated: September 13, 2013, 8:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Oklahoma State football players have said that the program was plagued by widespread drug use, that often there were dealers on the team and that the school helped keep stars eligible despite positive tests, according to Sports Illustrated's latest installment on the Cowboys.

"Drugs were everywhere," said Donnell Williams, an OSU linebacker in 2006, who said he didn't use drugs himself, according to SI.com.

In all, 30 players told SI that they used marijuana when they were members of the football team. Players told the publication that some teammates even used drugs before games.

"[Against] teams we knew we were going to roll, a couple of guys would get high," Calvin Mickens, a cornerback at Oklahoma State from 2005 to 2007, said, according to SI. "Some of the guys, [it] didn't matter what game it was, they were going to get high."

Mickens [Against] teams we knew we were going to roll, a couple of guys would get high. Some of the guys, [it] didn't matter what game it was, they were going to get high.

-- Calvin Mickens, former OSU cornerback
Three former players admitted to SI that they dealt drugs in the 2001, 2004 and 2006 seasons, while others said former teammates dealt drugs during seven other seasons.

In 2009, wide receiver Bo Bowling was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, according to SI. Police had found more than 100 grams of marijuana, Xanax, ephedrine, the steroid stanozolol, a digital scale and more than $1,000 in his apartment.

He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, community service and was ordered to undergo counseling. He rejoined the team in 2010.

Former players interviewed by SI said that stars' positive tests for drugs were ignored, while lesser players were suspended or kicked off the team.

"I was kind of in disbelief that people could do the things that they were doing," said Jonathan Cruz, an OSU offensive lineman in 2002, according to SI. "It was tied to how well you could produce. If you could produce on Saturday, things could be overlooked."

Coaches, including head coach Mike Gundy, were well aware of the marijuana issues on the team, according to SI, but they not only tolerated it, they also joked about the issue.

According to SI, star players were kept eligible by employing an NCAA rule that prevents penalties for positive tests if players are in counseling and their drug usage is decreasing. SI said most schools set time limits for remaining in counseling -- typically 30 days -- before positive tests trigger penalties. Oklahoma State had no time limit, according to SI, allowing some players to remain in the program for entire seasons even though their drug usage was not decreasing.

According to the article, the players called the program the Weed Circle. Mickens said he spent much of the 2005 season in the program. In the summer he tested positive again and should have been forced to miss 10 percent of the following season, but he said he was sent back to the Weed Circle.

"There were guys, I'd hear a trainer saying, 'Oh, your levels are going down. Oh, your levels are going down.' Yeah, right. You're covering up for them because they're a star," said Mickens, according to SI.

The program was run by a licensed drug and alcohol counselor from 2003 to 2006; however, around 2007 Joel Tudman, an assistant strength and conditioning coach and team chaplain, took over. His biography on the Oklahoma State website had said that he held two master's degrees, one in health and one in counseling. He in fact did not have any formal training in drug counseling, according to SI, and his bio was changed after he spoke to the publication.

Les Miles coached the Cowboys for some of the seasons described in the SI report. Reached by SI for comment on the allegations that star players were allowed to get away with drug use, the LSU coach sent a statement that said: "This is an outsider's view or perhaps from a disgruntled player who wanted playing time but could not earn it. Yes, I wanted our players to perform on the field, but they had to perform socially and academically too or they would not see the field."

Miles added, according to SI: "I backed the police 100 percent and did support law enforcement by asking what I could do to provide assistance."

Players and coaches associated with the program have questioned the veracity of the former players who are making the allegations to SI. Documents obtained by ESPN's Brett McMurphy do show that the story of Fath' Carter has some holes in it.

Carter, a former Cowboys safety, was one of the main individuals that alleged that Oklahoma State players were paid by coaches, boosters and had academic coordinators completing school work for players. He claimed to have graduated from the school and to have attended classes with former running back Tatum Bell. However, records show that he did not graduate and that Bell was not enrolled at the school at the time Carter claimed.

Other parts of Carter's story could not be independently disproved, however.

Other installments of the SI series on Oklahoma State have described payments for players and academic misconduct.

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