I didn’t know if I wanted to address this (for many reasons) but I started getting emails, DMs, texts, etc. about a Sports Illustrated story that’s supposedly coming on Oklahoma State either Monday night or Tuesday during the day.
The main reason I didn’t know if I wanted to write about it is because there’s still a chance it might not run — as there is with any heavily-investigated narrative about a college with lots of moving parts.
So for those wondering, the story will (allegedly) look something like this:
Oklahoma State’s football hostess program (Orange Pride1) is being investigated about some “stuff” (read: sex) that may or may not have happened involving between recruits and Orange Pride members.
According to this Oklahoman article the SI article will also include stories about drug issues, coaches paying players, and grade changing.
Oklahoma State has noted that the accusations are regarding the time period from 2001-2007.
I spoke with a member of the Orange Pride team from Gundy’s first two years as head coach on Friday and she said Sports Illustrated interviewed her months ago and asked her questions such as the following:
• What OSU’s uniforms look like who ordered them?
• What the nightlife is like in Stillwater.2
• How many hours Orange Pride members are required to work with coaches.
• What Orange Pride members are supposed to say to recruits’ parents.
She also said SI’s investigators “hinted at getting her to talk about coaches asking to be inappropriate in the way Orange Pride members interacted with recruits.”
The main coach they seemed to be trying to sniff out was…Joe DeForest.
This OP member couldn’t confirm whether any of this would be in the story, she just said this is what they were trying to snoop around for. So that’s what I know from a person who was legitimately interviewed for the piece in SI.
She also noted that when she was there Orange Pride members “were CONSTANTLY told and retold to be appropriate at ALL times with recruits and players. By Gundy and other staff.”
I don’t know what will actually be in the piece but I would assume it will involve details surrounding the above questions and what the Oklahoman wrote.
To me, it feels a little witch hunt-y because, let’s be honest for a second, “stuff” happens at every single BCS college football program in the country. You throw a bunch of 20-year-olds in a house with some recruits and give them some alcohol and crap is going to happen.
Now that having been said, if a coach demanded that anyone from Orange Pride do something for a recruit that would, uh, enhance his desires to come to Oklahoma State, well, that’s an issue.
Also, the boosters paying players thing is a problem (which…hope they don’t check out the basketball team!) so that would obviously be bad news for OSU if it can be proven.
But other than that allegation (and granted, it could be a big one) this doesn’t feel NCAA investigation-worthy. But again, who knows what’s in the SI article(s).
Oklahoma State released this statement on Saturday regarding the SI piece:
“We’re aware of the Sports Illustrated project. We have been told by Sports Illustrated that there are no eligibility or NCAA concerns regarding current staff or players.”
That seems to contradict the Oklahoman’s report — paying money to players for plays they made seems like it’s frowned upon in NCAA circles, might just be me.
And Mike Holder said this:
#okstate AD Mike Holder: "We take the (SI) allegations seriously. Whether they have merit or not, we don’t know. But we will find out."
— Kelly Hines (@KellyHinesTW) September 7, 2013
And Burns noted:
“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action.”
You can read the full release here.
Oh and for what it’s worth, Thayer Evans is prominently (as in he wrote the piece) involved.
I honestly don’t feel like anything will ever come of this long-term other than maybe a week or two of bad publicity but it should at the very least be an interesting week in Stillwater.
But at least we’re 2-0!