North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Z_CNHI News Service

September 17, 2013

OSU hires investigator to look into football team

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State University is asking a former NCAA official to look into allegations that its football players were paid, given no-show jobs, allowed to use and deal drugs, and passed through classes they barely attended.

Charles E. Smrt, former enforcement director for the NCAA, will investigate findings of a Sports Illustrated expose, "The Dirty Game," which was based on a 10-month investigation and interviews with more than five dozen former Oklahoma State players.

The five-part SI series focused on the team's rise to prominence, from 2001 through 2011, under former coach Les Miles and assistant coach Mike Gundy, who took the program when Miles left for Louisiana State in 2005.

The university announced its investigation as the final part of the report was posted online, describing a parade of players who had been cast aside by the football program once their best days were done.

The story describes how players, many of whom were at-risk when they arrived in Stillwater, were dismissed or forced to quit once they were injured or didn't live up to expectations. Many left school and are "damaged and downtrodden," according to the report - in prison, paroled, addicted, homeless or unemployed.

Between 2002 and 2010, SI reports, 43.5 percent of Oklahoma State players left school before using all five years of their playing eligibility - a turnover rate it calls "staggering" but that OSU disputes.

Previous installments of the report rocked Stillwater with allegations ranging from rampant drug abuse on the team to stories of recruits enticed to play for Oklahoma State by sex with hostesses in the "Orange Pride" hospitality program. The NCAA has said

“We must determine, based on credible sources and confirmed facts, whether the claims made in a series of Sports Illustrated articles have any truth to them,” said Tucker Link, chairman of the Oklahoma State Board of Regents. Link jointly announced Smrt's appointment with OSU President Burns Hargis.

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