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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