Academic fraud reportedly common at Oklahoma State
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — More than a dozen Oklahoma State football players admitted to academic misconduct over the past decade, including receiving exam answers in advance, passing classes for little or no work and using tutors who completed work for them, according to a Sports Illustrated article released Wednesday.
“The philosophy, the main focus, was to keep (top players) eligible through any means necessary,” former safety Fath’ Carter told the magazine. “The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing. That’s the only thing it was about.”
The article was the second of five planned by Sports Illustrated looking at alleged misconduct in the Oklahoma State football program dating to 2001 under coaches Les Miles and Mike Gundy. SI says it interviewed more than 60 former players and found evidence of potential NCAA violations including boosters and assistant coaches paying players thousands of dollars for their play; sham jobs arranged by boosters; selective enforcement of anti-drug policy for players; and football program hostesses who had sex with recruits.
Oklahoma State said it has notified the NCAA about the allegations and launched its own investigation.
The magazine named 13 former players who said they had work done for them or received other improper academic assistance. One of them, former receiver Artrell Woods, said he didn’t write “a single paper” during his three years at Oklahoma State and simply typed what tutors dictated to him.
Dez Bryant, a star receiver now with the Dallas Cowboys, was named second-team academic All-Big 12 in 2008. Former cornerback Calvin Mickens and former safety Victor Johnson both said they saw tutors do coursework for Bryant, who denied the claim to SI.
Miles, now the head coach at LSU, was Oklahoma State’s coach beginning in 2001. Gundy, his assistant, replaced him after the 2004 season and remains the head coach. Miles said he repeatedly told players to “attend class and do the right things.”
“Every guy was encouraged to get his degree, to stay the course, and to fight,” Miles said Wednesday on the SEC coaches’ teleconference. He said those making the allegations “weren’t there long enough to figure it out” because they were dismissed from the program.
“I can tell you that staff, family and friends, and anybody that sat in our meeting rooms, knew that this thing was done right,” he said.
Former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, now with the Cleveland Browns, called the allegations “comical” and said he did not see any wrongdoing during his time at the Big 12 school.
“First of all, clean slate, I didn’t take any money or do anything like that,” Weeden said. “It all happened before I got there. But the guys that they did question were not very good sources to question because they are kids that got kicked off the team for drugs or for whatever it might be. They were dismissed and so these are guys that aren’t real credible.”
Carter told SI a teammate introduced him to Ronald Keys, an academic coordinator for athletes from 1998 until 2001. Carter said he and several other players would visit Keys, drop off their assignments and return a few days later to pick up the finished work.
“I have no idea why he did it,” Carter said. “All we knew was that if you wanted a paper done, you called Keys. ... His name was infamous.”
Keys, now at Texas Southern, told the magazine he never did work for athletes. Terry Henley, an academic adviser for the football program since 2000, said he didn’t know anything about Keys doing work for athletes.
Several players said Henley steered them toward potentially easier majors with the goal of getting them passing grades.
“What I do with degrees and scheduling, I base it on aptitude, attitude,” Henley told SI. “Now a guy may have wanted to be a business major, but he can’t get through a math class. That’s a big reason why we don’t initially declare a major for a player. ... I’d love to tell every single one of them who walks in that door, You go be what you said you wanted to be, but at the same time I’ve got to look at aptitude, attitude and work ethic.”
Henley was also asked about players’ allegations that a number of instructors handed them passing grades for little or no work: “That was never brought to my attention, but they wouldn’t necessarily do that and, number two, I don’t have control over what a professor does.”