If Oklahoma State was looking for a clean, concise and — most importantly — extremely quick resolution to the Dez Bryant situation, the overnight developments are pointing to things possibly getting worse before they have a chance to get better. If they do at all.
According to Tulsa World, a meeting is tentatively scheduled for this coming Tuesday in Indianapolis between OSU assistant director of compliance Scott Williams and NCAA officials to discuss Bryant’s eligibility issues.
At the very heart of Bryant’s ineligibility is his relationship with Deion Sanders and why he felt the need to initially lie about it. The best-case scenario for Bryant – and Sanders as well – is that the NCAA finds the extent of the relationship between the two to be exactly what they say it is – a jog here, a dinner there, and a kid who simply “panicked” and lied when asked by the NCAA about those innocuous interactions.
The worst-case scenario for both? The NCAA finds that Sanders was serving as some type of conduit to Eugene Parker, an agent who represented Sanders during his time in the NFL and a man who the Hall of Famer still remains close to as the case of “Crabtree, Michael” suggests.
For Bryant, such a conclusion would mean the end of his collegiate career, although he was very likely to jump to the NFL early anyway. For Sanders? I’m certain Mike Florio will have something to say about what it would mean to Prime Time.
According to the Associated Press, the issues swirling around Bryant and his involvement with Sanders – as well as another former NFL player, Omar Stoutmire – started well before the start of the 2009 season.
Emails obtained by the AP show that OSU was actively looking for a resolution to Bryant’s case before the season began. And the reason for that is quite simple. If the NCAA ultimately finds Bryant ineligible – remember, it was OSU that declared the receiver ineligible – the Cowboys could be forced to vacate any wins in which Bryant played.
In an Aug. 26 e-mail, associate athletic director for compliance Scott Williams mentions that Oklahoma State’s season opener was approaching – at that point 10 days away – and the school would need to make “a determination on Dez’s playing status.”
Even more ominous was an email exchange obtained by the Daily Oklahoman, with the NCAA reminding OSU that it’s the school’s responsibility to certify a player’s eligibility.
On Sept. 2, responding to an inquiry about Bryant’s status, an NCAA official reminded Williams “it is the institution’s responsibility to certify the eligibility of its student-athletes,” adding that OSU “must feel comfortable that Mr. Bryant is eligible to compete.”
OSU released a statement on Wednesday announcing that Bryant was ineligible because he “failed to openly disclose to the NCAA the full details of his interaction with a former NFL player not affiliated with OSU.” The interesting twist, though, is that OSU wanted to include the relationship between Sanders and Parker in the statement.
“Would it be possible to release information regarding an alleged association between the former NFL player and an active agent? Would it be permissible to release information regarding the alleged workouts?” Williams asked in an e-mail this week according to the AP. “What parts of the investigation are we restricted from discussing?”
The NCAA advised the school to not include specifics of the investigation in their public statement.
It’s very clear that OSU will attempt to shift the blame for Bryant’s initial dishonesty to the Sanders/Parker tandem in a misguided attempt to curry some type of of favor from the NCAA in regards to their handling of the case. What’s unclear at this time is what exactly the remainder of the ’09 season will hold for Bryant.
Another certainty? Deion Sanders should be considered hazardous waste by any and all collegiate football player and institution of higher playing learning from here on out, and should only be approached while wearing HAZMAT-approved equipment.
Or, as Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News so eloquently put it:
For most of Deion Sanders’ 14 years in the National Football League, it was a good idea for wide receivers to stay away from him.
Apparently, it still is.