As expected, Sports Illustrated released the first of a five-part series Tuesday morning detailing allegations of improprieties in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to 2001, Les Miles‘ first year as Cowboys’ head coach.
While the details released thus far are from stunning at this level of college football — envelopes stuffed with cash handed to players by boosters, so-called $100 handshakes, jobs that involved little or no work in exchange for above-market wages — there was one piece of new information contained in the opening salvo that could leave a pair of programs outside of Stillwater taking at least a cursory look into one of its current/former assistants.
According to the report, Larry Porter, along with current WVU assistant Joe DeForest, took part in in the systematic payment of cash to players that would be considered NCAA violations. Porter was the running backs coach at OSU during Les Miles’ three years at the school, then followed Miles to LSU for another five years.
He’s in his first year as running backs coach at Texas. From the report:
DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, who was running backs coach from 2002 to ’04, also made straight payments to players. Girtman says that when he arrived in Stillwater in the summer of 2003, DeForest handed him a debit card with $5,000 on it, which was periodically refilled. Ricky Coxeff, a cornerback in 2003 and ’04, says he waited in the car on several occasions as Williams and Bell visited DeForest at his home and then returned with cash. Shaw says that Porter gave him $100 “four or five times,” telling him to use the money to get something to eat. Several weeks before the start of fall camp in ’03, Carter says that Porter gave him “a couple hundred bucks” in the locker room so that incoming freshmen Coxeff and defensive lineman Xavier Lawson-Kennedy could stay at Carter’s apartment — before they were allowed under NCAA rules to begin receiving room and board. Lawson–Kennedy confirms that he and Coxeff stayed at Carter’s apartment.
Porter has denied the allegations contained in the story, telling SI in a statement that “I’ve been made aware of the accusations, and I’m disappointed because they are all absolutely not true. None of that ever happened.”
While Porter’s name being attached to alleged impermissible benefits was a new angle to the story, it’s DeForest and his reputation, though, that continues to be battered.
Brad Girtman, who played for OSU from 2003-04, told SI that DeForest himself set the scale for alleged payments: quarterback hurries were worth $50, a tackle between $75 to $100 and a sack from $200 to $250. Rodrick Johnson, a linebacker/defensive lineman from 2004-07, stated that DeForest, OSU’s special teams coordinator as well as cornerbacks coach, set the scale at between $100 and $500 for big plays on special teams.
Girtman also claims that DeForest gave him a list with the names and phone numbers of boosters on it, telling him “[i]f you need anything, call this guy” as he pointed to one name in particular. It was also alleged by at least one former player that DeForest paid players to do odd jobs around his house; the players, it’s alleged, did nothing and were paid “$400, $500, $600” by the coach.
DeForest has denied any and all wrongdoing.
“I have never paid a player for on-field performance,” DeForest’s statement began. “I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity.”
DeForest’s current employer, WVU, has already publicly stated that they are looking into the allegations to find what if any alleged misconduct may have been brought over to the Mountaineers.
The problem for Oklahoma State, though, is the fact that, after Miles left for LSU following the 2004 season, DeForest remained as part of Mike Gundy‘s new coaching staff and stayed at the school through 2011. While most of the allegations occurred during Miles’ time in Stillwater, players have claimed that the payment program continued through at least 2011, DeForest’s last year at the school.
“They figure if a player shines and you pat him on the back in an obtainable way, he’s going to do whatever he can to keep getting that paper,” Javius Townsend, a redshirt offensive lineman during the 2010 season, was quoted as saying.
The NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years; with the allegations levied against DeForest having come as recently as two years ago, the NCAA will certainly take an interest in that aspect of the report. Along with WVU, both LSU and Texas and their respective compliance departments will also likely conduct their own investigations due to Porter’s alleged payments to players.
It should be noted that neither Miles nor OSU mega-booster T. Boone Pickens have been accused of any wrongdoing. Well, at least not yet; the second part of the series, expected to focus on widespread academic misconduct, will be released at the same time tomorrow morning.
UPDATED 11:21 a.m. ET: Texas was notified of Porter’s alleged involvement in the payment of players last Wednesday. In response, athletic director DeLoss Dodds released a statement.
“After questioning him on Thursday concerning those allegations, we do not have any issues with him at this time.”