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T. Boone Pickens criticizes Sports Illustrated report on Oklahoma State

Energy entrepreneur Pickens takes part in a panel discussion titled "The End of Energy Scarcity?" at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California AP

Oil magnate and Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens criticized Sports Ilustrated’s expose of the Cowboys program on Tuesday, calling it “disappointing” and “not reflective of Oklahoma State University today.”

Pickens, a multi-billionaire, estimates that he has donated $500 million to the school for both academics and athletics. OSU’s football stadium is named after him.

On Tuesday, SI released the first report in a series on alleged improprieties by OSU dating back to when Les Miles was the head coach. Among the allegations was that players received thousands of dollars in bonuses from the program, with some payments coming as recently as 2011 under current coach Mike Gundy.

Pickens released the following statement:

There’s one word I have for the Sports Illustrated reporting on Oklahoma State University: Disappointing.

This series is not reflective of Oklahoma State University today. Many of their sensational allegations go back a decade ago.

There have been wholesale changes at the school in recent years in leadership and facilities. During that time, I have given more than $500 million to OSU, for athletics and academics. Have I gotten my money’s worth? You bet. We have a football program that has a commitment to principled sportsmanship. They understand the expectations we, as fans and supporters, have for the program. We have an incredible and growing fan base, and a loyal group of alums that believe in the character of our players, coaches and administrators.

But I do welcome this scrutiny. If people take the time, it’s an opportunity to better understand where Oklahoma State is today, not a decade ago. It’s a different university today. It’s a better university. If there are areas where we need to improve, we’ll do it.

Which leads me back to my disappointment with Sports Illustrated, and their failure to ask the most important question of all: What’s happening at OSU today?

So far there has been a lot of pushback against the SI series by former Cowboys players. As salacious as the charges are, it probably won’t amount to much more than a public relations hit for the school.

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22 Responses to “T. Boone Pickens criticizes Sports Illustrated report on Oklahoma State”
  1. YouMadCauseImStylingOnYou says: Sep 10, 2013 5:44 PM

    Miami has one rouge booster (a convicted ponzi schemer) telling stories and they get a 3 year investigation.

    Oklahoma State has 60 people telling the same stories (including academic fraud and coaches interviewing women to sleep with recruits) and it’s just going to be a “public relations hit” for the school?

    Sounds about right.

  2. whoisedgy says: Sep 10, 2013 5:50 PM

    “I donated $500 million. Shut up and leave us alone. Don’t you know money talks?”

    –T. Boone

  3. jtinnon2009 says: Sep 10, 2013 5:58 PM

    And why wouldn’t he criticize SI? He has a tremendous investment in their future. Too bad Boone, this investment was a bad deal…

  4. southernpatriots says: Sep 10, 2013 6:15 PM

    T. Boone likely has his own PIs looking into the allegations. Some of the witnesses are dead, others deny SI ever talked to them and deny the allegations, some of it is just smoke and mirrors, from a disgraced wife beating reporter. It was SIs responsibility to check witnesses which they apparently did not do. Appears worse than yellow journalism.

  5. qcubed3 says: Sep 10, 2013 6:18 PM

    He’s essentially correct though. Almost the entirety of the allegations arose during Les Miles’ tenure with one hold over coach from then who was still operating outside the rules. It certainly looks bad, but SI’s report pretty much makes the case that OSU has been “clean” during the last five or so years since they turned up almost nothing from then.

  6. thefiesty1 says: Sep 10, 2013 6:22 PM

    Money can’t buy championships, or maybe it can.

  7. mogogo1 says: Sep 10, 2013 7:04 PM

    He’s given them $500 million already and they’re probably hoping for a cool Billion when he passes away. Pissing him off doing something he directly told them not to do would be monumentally dumb. If those allegations are true, highly likely T. Boone was on board, if not privy to the details, then at least in general.

    Would you build a school a whole new stadium when 4-5 wins was going to be be the norm? I’d expect to see a winner play in my stadium.

  8. YouMadCauseImStylingOnYou says: Sep 10, 2013 7:26 PM


    “Money can’t buy championships, or maybe it can”

    Money kept Oklahoma State out of the 2011 BCS Title Game, ESPN and the BCS made sure of that.

  9. lottsmissingfinger says: Sep 10, 2013 7:58 PM

    As soon as I saw the byline on the article I downgraded its veracity. Thayer Evans? The NY Times had to apologize for an unverified hatchet job he did on Texas, he lost a previous reporting job due to inaccuracies on his résumé, plus other attack pieces he’s written have been largely proven as, to generously put it, “manipulated” (Auburn, Kentucky).

  10. vincentbojackson says: Sep 10, 2013 8:05 PM

    Can’t argue with anything he said. By all accounts those involved are long gone from OSU. Why punish those that are currently following the rules?

  11. thekatman says: Sep 10, 2013 9:54 PM

    And Oregon has a billionaire booster on z Phil z knight and they have been let off Scott free. Knight and Oregon circumvent the rules when it comes to Knight’s funding of the football team and athletics in general.

  12. gopokes0714 says: Sep 10, 2013 10:39 PM


    1. If the scandal is so rampant and wide spread, and hundreds of people with knowledge, how did it take 10 years to come out?

    2. Cash handed out freely in the locker room right after a game, with press and everyone else around? Again hundreds of people would have known.

    3. Starving players, when there are several meals provided by the athletic department? This is just not true.

    4. ‘Boosters became so pervasive after Miles took over that they began connecting with players even before they arrived on campus. (T. Boone Pickens, the school’s most prominent booster, was not implicated in any improprieties by SI’s sources.) Shaw says that after he decided to attend Oklahoma State in 2001 as a senior at Shawnee (Okla.) High, a booster gave him between $400 and $500.”

    Seymore Shaw originally signed with the University of Oklahoma as a partial qualifier his senior year of HS. He came to OSU in August after the season already started when OU did not give him a scholarship.

    5. “Williams was shot to death in 2007 while a member of the Denver Broncos; Grant died in a car accident in ’05. Bell, DeGrate and Fields all denied getting illicit payments. Bowman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.”
    Tatum Bell and Josh Fields both publically stated they were never contacted by SI.

    6. Less than 24 hours into the story and 2 ‘sources’ have claimed their quotes were twisted and manipulated. Pogi even states that he told Evans that the worse that happened at Oklahoma state was horsing around in the locker room.

    “let me say this ti all of you, I was never paid or said anything negative about OSU, That Evens guy is trash for what he worte! He took what I said and flipped it to his own words! I never said anything about Bobby Reid, Defo, or John Talley! I am embarrassed and shamed of this articale! I was lied to about what this articale is about and for that I apologize to everyone for! This is something that will get resolved and I will see to that myself!” – Rodrick Johnson

    7. 2005: Freshman cornerback Calvin Mickens says he received $200 from a booster he did not know, for playing well in his debut game, against MontanaState.
    Mickens also said he received several similar payouts after a 62-23 loss at Texas A&M in which he had an interception.
    From Barry Tramel, “Let me get this straight. Someone paid a freshman cornerback after a 39-point defeat. That’s messed up on some level.”

    8. 2002-07: Rodrick Johnson said Darrent Williams openly talked about getting paid, and tailback Seymore Shaw said Tatum Bell openly talked about getting paid.
    From Barry Tramel, “If players were openly talking about the payments, the talk had to filter down to the rest of the team and/or coaches. So someone is lying. Either those who said they got paid, or those who say they never heard or saw anything untoward.”

    9. Rodrick Johnson, Calvin Mickens, Seymore Shaw and receiver Artrell Woods say quarterback Bobby Reid received money early in his career, when he was the starter, but that the money “dried up” when he lost the starting job.
    From Barry Tramel, “Maybe so. But this is opposite of the earlier claim in the Sports Illustrated report, that it wasn’t just stars or starters who got paid. It was players who had their hand out.”

    10. 2001: Safety Fath’ Carter said players received $500 handshakes in the locker room after OSU’s Bedlam upset.
    From Barry Tramel, “Now that’s an act of faith. Someone who came to the game believing victory is possible.”

    11. 2001: Seymore Shaw says head coach Les Miles introduced him to OSU booster Kay Norris, who paid Shaw $400 to take a Christmas tree out of the attic and paid him $700 “numerous” times to clean the floorboards of rental houses, which took about an hour to complete.
    From Barry Tramel, “This is unlike all the other allegations in that I knew Kay Norris, who died in 2006. Her son, Chris, has told The Oklahoman that the Norrises have no rental houses, at least not this side of Broken Bow.”

  13. gopokes0714 says: Sep 10, 2013 10:40 PM

    Thayer Evans played basketball at a school in Oklahoma. Evans was kicked out of school for stealing.
    Evan’s beat his wife, and there is currently a restraining order against him.
    Evans was fired from the Houston Chronicle for lying on his resume
    Evans was fired from Fox Sports for making up sources.
    He is quite literally a lying, cheating, woman beating, thief. Excuse me if I don’t take him at his word.

    Just so there are no illusions about Thayer Evans and his thoughts about Oklahoma State:

    “…a meltdown by seventh-year Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is coming just like usual, as evidenced by his sixth-ranked team’s sloppy 38-26 victory Saturday against incompetent No. 22 Texas.”

    “Even the rest of the college football world knows Gundy is bound for a debacle. It’s the unspoken reason no one is worried about the Cowboys winning the Big 12 championship, let alone the national title, this season.”

    “Everyone is just waiting for Chokie State to once again live up to its nickname under Gundy.”

    “Of course, Gundy’s biggest meltdown wasn’t even on a football field. It was four years ago, when he infamously yelled, “I’m a man! I’m 40!” while berating a female newspaper columnist for what she had written.
    Yet despite his knack for meltdowns, a solemn Gundy managed to avoid one Saturday when asked whether he was haunted by his past failures.
    “No,” Gundy said. “It’s a new season.”
    But it’s still the same Gundy, always on the verge of a disaster.”

    “And if this season is going to be any different for Gundy, even one of his best players can’t tell you why. When asked why people should believe that Oklahoma State won’t disappoint, Weeden was at a loss for words.
    “I don’t know,” Weeden said. “We’re not worried about it.”
    Weeden actually makes a good point. You can’t worry about what’s inevitable.”

    Jason Whitlock ‏ @WhitlockJason
    My God, this might be the journalistic crime of the century. Boomer Sooner got to write takedown of Okie State. Unreal. #plushesahack

    Jason Whitlock ‏@WhitlockJason
    Yes, I’m not speculating about his incompetence. RT @MinnickTaylor: Wasn’t Thayer Evans a colleague of yours over at Fox Sports

    “But then in addition to that, having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports, having followed his work for some time, I am completely and utterly flabbergasted that a legitimate news outlet would allow Thayer Evans to be involved in some type of investigative piece on college football that tears down a program, and particularly one that tears down Oklahoma State when it is no secret what a huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer Thayer Evans is. This is just incredible. Knowing the lack of competence that’s there with Thayer Evans, knowing the level of simplemindedness that’s there with Thayer Evans, to base any part of the story on his reporting is mind-boggling. … When I learned Thayer Evans was involved, I just said, there’s no way I’ll read this because there’s no reason to trust this reporter on anything of any substance. If you go back and look at his track record of reporting and the consistent controversy that surrounds his reporting – he made a name for himself at the New York Times by writing these annual stories about some top high school football recruit that he would buddy up to, follow around with a tape recorder and then report what some immature 17-year-old kid said about the recruiting process. These kids tended to come from single-parent families with the mother working and busy, so there wasn’t the normal oversight and anybody with a brain could see the exploitation that was taking place. … It doesn’t surprise me there are sources in this story saying the reporting was heavy-handed and leading. I don’t want to make the whole thing about Thayer Evans, but there’s just no way to avoid it. I’ve worked with him. He’s simpleminded. He’s a hack that can’t write. This isn’t personal, I promise. I have no reason to dislike Thayer Evans personally, and I don’t. But I’ve read enough of his work this guy isn’t qualified for this job and by now Sports Illustrated and anybody else should be well aware of this. Type his name into Google, read his previous work, read how his previous work has been debunked and there’s just no surprise. This story will be shrouded in controversy.”

    “ … Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice. It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell cat and I say in all seriousness.”– Jason Whitlock

  14. swu32733 says: Sep 10, 2013 10:41 PM

    Oregon football has the richest owner in all of college sports.

  15. sillec28 says: Sep 10, 2013 11:34 PM

    If the best OkState’s biggest booster can come up with is “we used to cheat but we don’t any more”Oklahoma State is in real trouble.

  16. southernpatriots says: Sep 11, 2013 1:04 AM


    Thank you. I know you are busy as I am, but I am so glad you had an opportunity to get to this story and post. I was about to contact JT and ask him to send you my email and ask you to communicate with me but looked back here and saw you had posted detailed information without even having to delve into the suspect character and writing of the source of these spurious accusations and rumors.

    Thank you again. The truth will get out there. Keep up the great work you are doing.

  17. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 1:39 AM


    Thank you, I’m keeping a log, and will on each piece. Based on what Dohrmann has said so far about what is upcoming, I am expecting more of the same unsubstantiated rhetoric.

    My biggest question for SI so far is, why let Thayer Evans be associated with this piece? They had to know that less than 6 months before the story started to be investigated, Thayer was openly slandering OSU and coach Gundy. And they had to know that it would be called into question. It only shrouds the article in shoddy or yellow journalism.

    I believe there was something going on, and there are questions that need to be answered by OSU. But now it’s impossible to know what’s true and what isn’t, because SI made a mockery of the whole thing. What is the NCAA, or heck the average reader, to do now? Pick and choose what they believe from hearsay? The whole thing is a joke.

    I never thought I would say this, but I sincerely hope Alabama vs A&M is the game of the century. Where is Johnny Football when you need him? Please CBS camera, catch something good!

    After what happened at Duke, Ohio St, the Teo scrutiny, Tebow scrutiny, and even Manziel. The media has to start atoning for ruining people lives. It is absolutely criminal

  18. southernpatriots says: Sep 11, 2013 7:08 AM


    Some of us, an increasing number of us, have questions and great doubt on the veracity of many aspects of these accusations, but you provided details and evidence which refutes the accusations head on.

    I know from past experiences that somewhere between 90 and 98% of all readers of CFT do not post. Athletes and administrators read as well as family members and friends of those involved in the stories read them here. If we can get the story straight, then it does us good to understand it, but it also brings comfort to those involved.

    I thought we would never get where we are that reporters become rumor mongers and do not even follow the basic tenets of their profession of confirming stories and interviewing witnesses.

    You are on top of this story, my friend. Please keep up the great work…for the sake of the truth, those accused, as well as those of us who are interested in the truth. Your work here is invaluable. Thank you on behalf of my family and friends in Oklahoma and fans and truth seekers everywhere.

  19. gorilladunk says: Sep 11, 2013 7:25 AM

    You will, of course, make note of the fact that he DIDN’T say any of the allegations were UNTRUE.

  20. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:21 PM

    @southernpatriots please contact me, or let me know of a way I can contact you. Thank you

  21. southernpatriots says: Sep 11, 2013 12:55 PM

    No problem:

    On this page scroll to the right top side under Site Tools, press “Send Feedback” and request JT (John Taylor, our esteemed senior host and writer and manager here at CFT). Ask him to communicate with us your email and info. He is busy and will relate that to us as soon as he is able. It may be hours or days. We will communicate with you following.

    I will be leaving in the next couple of hours to be with a patient and family. The young girl is in the final stages of cystic fibrosis. We are awaiting word from several transplant hospitals if they have matching lungs available. That is the only treatment at this point.

    I will check back from time to time, even if I leave for the transplant hospital later today.

  22. noaxetogrind says: Sep 11, 2013 1:09 PM

    A lot of comments on here as to shoddy journalism. I quess my response is Why are we suprised? Did we think sports would be immune from the decline of responsible journalism that is rampant in our media today? My father in law was journalism major and he can’t belive what he says today. Journalist, print or TV, have gone from reporting the facts to crafting storys that fit the narrative they want to portray. You want news from the left just put on CNN or MSNBC. You want news from the right just put on FOX. Regardless of which side of the political mainstream you fall on you should be concerned. The media just takes us all for incompetent serfs who cannot figure things out for ourselves so they will create the truth for us. Sad that it has filtered down to athletics but certainly not surprising. There was a time where being a reporter was pretty highly respected in the community. Not anymore, in a recent PEW research poll the media had a lower trust worthiness rating that Congress and that says it all.

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