Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Football [Print without images]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Report: OK St. had academic issues

ESPN.com news services

Thirteen players on Oklahoma State football teams from 2000 to 2011 say they committed some kind of academic misconduct while at the school, according to the latest Sports Illustrated installment on the Cowboys program.

Sixteen other players were named by players as having schoolwork done for them.

On Tuesday, SI.com reported that players received cash payments from people associated with the program and said that the issue surfaced when Les Miles -- the coach at LSU since 2005 -- took over OSU's program in December 2000. The claims of academic misconduct coincide with Miles' tenure but continued after current coach Mike Gundy took over in 2005. 

Miles I revered my time in Stillwater. ... Did we work hard? You betcha. Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups? You betcha. But every guy was encouraged to get his degree, stay the course and fight.

-- LSU's Les Miles,
coach at OSU from 2001-04

Players told SI that they had coursework completed by tutors or university staff members, received answers to exams before taking them and received passing grades despite not completing coursework.

Miles, who addressed the issue Wednesday on the SEC teleconference, said those making allegations of academic fraud at Oklahoma State or improper payments to players from boosters "weren't there long enough to figure it out" because they were dismissed from the program.

"I revered my time in Stillwater," Miles said. "The idea that someone would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct ... 

"Did we work hard? You betcha. Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups? You betcha. But every guy was encouraged to get his degree, stay the course and fight."

Safety Fath' Carter (2000-03), wide receiver William Cole (2007-08), cornerback Calvin Mickens (2005-07), defensive tackle Larry Brown (2005-06), offensive lineman Jonathan Cruz (2002), linebacker LeRon Furr (2009-10), defensive tackle Brad Girtman (2003-04), safety Chris Massey (1999-2002), defensive end T.J. Minor (2005-06), linebacker Marcus Richardson (2007), running back Herschel Sims (2011), wide receiver Artrell Woods (2006-08) and defensive back Thomas Wright (2002-04) all told SI that they had work done for them or received other improper academic assistance.

Among players allegedly seen receiving improper academic help was Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who was named second-team all-academic Big 12 in 2008.

"You didn't have no choice but to laugh at it," said Victor Johnson, an OSU safety from 2008-10, according to SI.

Johnson and an unnamed former assistant coach told SI that Bryant would not go to class unless taken by a staff member and routinely had his coursework completed for him. When contacted by SI, Bryant denied having work done for him.

Other players named as receiving improper help -- running back Tatum Bell (2000-03), wide receiver Prentiss Elliott (2004), quarterback Josh Fields (2001-03) and defensive end Kevin Williams (1998-2002) -- denied the allegations, according to SI.

Miles was said to have a routine in which he would say "academics first" and hold up two fingers, then say "football second" and hold up one finger.

When reached by SI, Miles said: "I always said, and I always meant, that academics was the most important thing."

As for the finger routine, he said that he did it once in "a moment of humor."

But according to Doug Bond, an Oklahoma State offensive lineman from 2002-04, the message was clear: "You heard his words, but you saw what he was doing. So the thought process was that you're going to school just so you can play football."

Subsequent installments of SI's report allege that the OSU program tolerated recreational drug use and that members of a hostess program had sex with recruits.

Another former player, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, came forward Wednesday to say the SI story was not accurate.

Weeden, who set numerous records at OSU from 2008-11, called the report "comical" and said he "literally laughed out loud" while reading the first part of SI's investigative series. Weeden said he did not accept any money while he was at OSU and praised Gundy for running a clean program.

Former Oklahoma State defensive end Antonio Smith, currently playing for the Houston Texans, said he was surprised by the allegations.

"Yeah, I mean, I guess when you see it happen to another team, it's kind of funny and you can talk about your teammates that went to those schools," Smith said. "Today I was talked about. I was the butt of the joke. It kind of messes with you a little bit that your school's name is being tainted. I hope something can come out and reverse some of the accusations."

Information from ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli and The Associated Press was used in this report.