Oklahoma State University: Allegations Of Misconduct In The Football Program 'Unfounded'

Tuesday, October 21st 2014, 11:11 am
By: John Holcomb

The major sanctions some had feared would hit OSU football after last year's Sports Illustrated series on the program apparently won't be major at all.

The NCAA investigation at OSU is over and while violations were found, none are classified as Level I, the most severe. 

OSU: Complete Results Of Inquiry

NCAA enforcement is passing along three Level II violations to the Committee on Infractions for possible punishment. Those are described as "Violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the (NCAA) Constitution and bylaws."

9/9/2013: Related Story:Sports Illustrated Releases Details On OSU Investigation Series

The nature of the violations is believed to center around the school's drug-testing program, academics and a compliance issue with the Orange Pride program.  OSU released the complete results of the inquiry performed by The Compliance Group and found that nearly all of the primary contentions in the SI articles were not corroborated.

Three areas could possibly result in Level III violations.

Academics: Due to specific circumstances it was determined that a football non-coaching staff member possibly provided too much assistance to a then student-athlete.

Drug Testing: The policy was not followed on a few occasions, but TCG believes the student-athletes' athletics abilities were not the reason for this failure.

Orange Pride: It was determined that the Orange Pride program was not sufficiently aligned with the Admissions Office, resulting in certain recruiting activities (i.e., accompanying coaching staff members on campus tours with prospects) being contrary to NCAA legislation.

The NCAA investigation came after the Sports Illustrated 5-part series on the OSU program entitled "The Dirty Game," that was published in September of 2013. The school also hired NCAA enforcement expert Chuck Smart to lead an internal investigation during that time. Smrt, OSU president Burns Hargis and the NCAA are releasing responses on the results of the investigation today.

9/9/2013: Related Story: OSU Responds To Sports Illustrated Investigation Into Football Program

The University and the NCAA released the following joint statement on Tuesday, 10/21/2014:

"After a thorough review by the NCAA Enforcement Staff and an outside consultant hired by Oklahoma State University, allegations of misconduct in the Oklahoma State football program as reported by the media in September 2013 were fundamentally unfounded.

Although a few individuals outside the university refused to cooperate, investigators reviewed approximately 50,000 emails and interviewed nearly 100 individuals involved with Oklahoma State's football program, including current and former coaches, administrators, student-athletes, students and prospects.

Oklahoma State fully cooperated with the NCAA Enforcement Staff and participated in the interviews. As a result of the information collected during these joint interviews, the NCAA will issue a notice of allegations detailing three possible Level II violations."

9/11/2013: Related Story: Are Sports Illustrated Allegations Against OSU Still Punishable Today?

Head coach Mike Gundy offered this statement:

“In the aftermath of the Sports Illustrated series, the right thing to do was examine the program. I have attempted to operate our program with integrity and have reinforced to our coaching staff the importance of compliance with NCAA rules. If we had any shortfalls, I wanted to know. While I am pleased, but not surprised, that the claims in Sports Illustrated were fundamentally unfounded, we continue to work with the athletics administration to ensure a clear understanding and application of our policies. From the moment I was chosen to coach my alma mater, I have made decisions to create a NCAA compliant environment, while ensuring student-athlete welfare. I love my players and want them to succeed in life by making good decisions and respecting the rules.”

9/12/2014: Related Story: Former OSU Player Tatum Bell Says SI's OSU Series Is 'Slander'

Sports Illustrated released a statement saying:

"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."