Boosters and assistant coaches at Oklahoma State handed out tens of thousands of dollars to players for at least a decade while the football team grew into a national power under coaches Les Miles and then Mike Gundy, according to a Sports Illustrated story released Tuesday.
The story, which quoted several former players by name, said some players received $2,000 to $10,000 annually, with a few stars receiving $25,000 or more. Eight players said they received cash, while 29 others were named by teammates as taking money between 2001 and 2011.
Oklahoma State said it has notified the NCAA about the report and launched its own investigation.
Sports Illustrated said its five-part series included interviews with more than 60 players who played for Oklahoma State from 2001-10. Among the allegations of misconduct and potential NCAA violations are:
• An Oklahoma State assistant coach, Joe DeForest, paid cash bonuses to players of up to $500 for good performances.
• 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 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 performance. NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter declined comment when asked about the report, citing the organization’s longstanding policy.
Former cornerback Calvin Mickens said he was handed cash in the locker room by a stranger after Oklahoma State’s 2005 opener, a 15-10 win over Montana State 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.”
He said he got money at other times, including $800 later that season after the game at Texas A&M, and saw teammates getting similar handouts. Former defensive tackle Brad Girtman said he saw some star players get “monster payments,” while he once received $500 from a member of the football staff.
Girtman said the rates were told to him by DeForest, who ran special teams and the secondary under Miles and then was an associate head coach under Gundy, the current coach, from 2005-11.