Oklahoma State Cowboys scandal: Breaking down how the school can escape punishment

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Jul 22, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy speaks to the media during the Big 12 media days at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The scandal involving the Oklahoma State Cowboys, as reported by Sports Illustrated, is one that many sports fans are already tired of. Athletes getting paid under the table, having their homework completed for them so they can play on Saturdays, being able to smoke weed without discipline, and all other similar situations are all subjects that have rocked at least one school every year.

Every school will try to gain an edge in athletics, but does every single program resort to cheating? No. Still, any accusations at this magnitude needs to be scrutinized and not simply generalized or scoffed at.

We’ll focus on some key areas while breaking down the OSU scandal, and most of it could favor the Cowboys:

  • What the NCAA will be most interested in.
  • The NCAA’s “Statute of Limitations.”
  • One of the SI authors’ conflict of interest.

First, the the most important parts of these stories are the ones already released. Unless Oklahoma State University was involved directly with drugs and escorts, the other stories are just for attention.

The NCAA should care more about money and especially academics. How does that make other students and alumni feel when these athletes were getting paid or tutors and professors were passing them through classes?

Even if it was just a handful of players that were actually involved, that’s enough to bring harsh penalties down to Oklahoma State University — assuming that culture is still there.

Nov 17, 2012; Stillwater OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Since a lot of these allegations fall out of the four-year window of the NCAA’s statute of limitations, no one can bang on the school for what it did in the past. That was something OSU’s billionaire donor, T. Boone Pickens, highlighted when responding to the SI article. In his defense, he was not named in any of their allegations.

What name will be important in any impending investigation is former coach Joe DeForest, who allegedly set bounties for players similar to Gregg Williams in the New Orleans Saints fiasco. He served as the teams’ associate coach and worked on the safeties and special teams, and as expected bounties were set for such things as tackles and big special teams plays.

DeForest was with the Cowboys until 2011. If there is still any form of that culture there, or it was there within the four-year window, then OSU will be in serious trouble.

If the team is guilty, they at least went about it the right way. Athletic director Mike Holder didn’t go on the defensive, and even apologized to all Big 12 AD’s for the bad publicity the conference will get. With the school’s full cooperation in meeting with the NCAA, penalties will be less harsh if these allegations are proven to be true.

Whether proven right or wrong, the five-part series by SI will hang a dark cloud over the school. Lots of potential recruits or prospects could have jumped ship as early as today, and not all of the authors involved in the article have a completely clean slate.

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  • Happy Madison

    Full Disclosure – I’m an OSU fan, have been since growing up as kid in a small Agro/Oil town in central Oklahoma – so take my comments for what the are – a Homer’s view…

    My first thought when I heard about the article was “who’s going to benefit from it?”. If you follow the money, who get’s what they want?

    I guess the writer could get another Pulitzer; I guess the other guy can get his 15 minutes of fame along with a world-wide smack down (assisted by him) to a school that he despises….But my first thought was…Who hates Les Miles this much and wants him out of LSU (of course, I guess someone could hate DeForrest at WVU also).

    Who got the story rolling? Why did it even start to begin with? Why OSU?

    Because here’s what I know about the people of Oklahoma, that many people that don’t live here don’t know – we don’t give up. We may take a beating, but we will continue to come back to come after you, to make you pay. People in Oklahoma have long memories – hell, Barry Switzer is still considered the king of football in the state – he help elect the only Democratic governor within the state in over 30 years – he still sways public opinion.

    And I would not want to be on the wrong side of the equation once T. Boone decides to jump into the mix. He spent $500M to get his beloved OSU to the place it is today – how much will he spend to make sure it doesn’t go down? And how much wrath will he bring down on those people that brought it down? This is not over, in fact, it is only beginning. There are only two outcomes…(1) the whole story is discredited and SI/Microsoft/the advertisers/and who knows who else will feel it more than OSU is feeling it now or (2) The story is SO MUCH bigger than even SI thought and it brings down the more than OSU, potentially the whole college football ecosystem.

    Personal opinion only.

  • John M Conley

    Breaking down how OSU can escape punishment? That’s sad. The Miami Hurricane didn’t escape punishment for doing the exact same things a few years ago, did they? Thanks to T. Boone, you Cowboys have finally bought yourself some status. Now….unless the sheepish national sportswriters help the NCAA and ESPN bury the story….you and your dubious benefactor will have to pay. The school is led (and T. Boone financed) by conservative Republicans from top to bottom, so don’t expect anyone to admit any fault. The devil made them do it.
    Oklahoma….the school with class and character….would be cleaning house.