Since publishing this article Cowboys Ride For Free was provided with an official statement on behalf of Sports Illustrated regarding the NCAA/OSU report issued earlier today.
"Sports Illustrated firmly stands behind its comprehensive series on the Oklahoma State program. The investigation by the NCAA and an outside consultant hired by Oklahoma State was limited in scope but nonetheless revealed multiple NCAA violations including a "failure to monitor." Nowhere does the report say our work is fundamentally unfounded and in fact it points to its own limitations in its ability to corroborate SI's findings."
In September of 2013, just before the football season started, Sports Illustrated released a five-part series detailing a myriad of allegations against the Oklahoma State football program. Oklahoma State immediately requested an NCAA investigation, and today we know those results. Announced in a joint statement by the NCAA and a consultant hired by OSU the allegations were 'fundamentally unfounded', according to the Oklahoman.
Thayer Evans and George Dohrmann with Sports Illustrated alleged that Oklahoma State's recent success was built on paying players, providing sex to recruits, academic fraud and more. They quoted several former players, and described a program that was heavily corrupt, and put winning above all else. Even player safety, and their future.
Almost immediately ESPN and local media found inaccuracies in Sports Illustrated report. It was discovered that much of it was based on disgruntled athletes that had failed to make the most of their opportunities at Oklahoma State. Many of the former players interviewed also took issue with the report. They claimed they were not made aware the conversations were being recorded, and that their quotes were being manipulated.
There was another curiosity noticed, none of the players interviewed mentioned speaking with George Dohrmann, the lead author on the piece. Instead they all detailed conversations with Thayer Evans. A sports writer whose distaste for OSU and lack of credibility is well documented.
Despite the the glaring holes in SI's report Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis requested an investigation into the allegations.
OSU retained The Compliance Group to investigate the allegations. The Compliance Group, of Lenexa, Kan., is led by Chuck Smrt, who spent 18 years on the NCAA enforcement staff and has run the consultant firm since 1999.
Smrt and the NCAA conducted a joint investigation and found three Level II violations, termed "more than minimal, but less than extensive," by Smrt and OSU officials.
Those violations include:
* Failure to adequately apply the university's drug policy on five occasions, out of 94 positive tests involving 60 athletes over a seven-year span, 2007-13. The report issued by Smrt said none of those failures applied to a "multi-year starter" and two of the players left OSU soon after the positive test.
* The Orange Pride support program was organized through the football program, rather than OSU's admissions office, which meant it was impermissible for Orange Pride members to talk with prospects or their parents about the university.
* A charge of failure to monitor, pertaining to the first two allegations.
"I am pleased that the independent inquiry did not substantiate the primary contentions contained in the Sports Illustrated articles," said OSU athletic director Mike Holder.
Oklahoma State paid investigator Chuck Smrt $221,055.18. Was working on case last 13 months— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 21, 2014
We don't know exactly what punishment could be handed down from the NCAA, but it's not expected to be severe as the three violations are minor.