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Academic fraud the focus of latest SI installment on OSU

SI OSU Cover

As we wade our way into Day 2 of the Sports Illustrated expose’ on the Oklahoma State football program, the focus has shifted from alleged illicit payments to players to the seedy side of the college classroom.

The tone for the latest installment from SI was set in the fifth paragraph — following what was a very Les Miles-like anecdote involving Les Miles — and was presented thusly:

…it is not surprising that 13 Cowboys who played between 2000 and ’11 told SI that they participated in some form of academic misconduct, and 16 others were named by teammates as also having had schoolwork done for them. Players said that they routinely had their coursework completed by tutors or university staff members, that they were provided with answers to exams before taking them, and that they received passing grades despite doing little or no work. Players also allege that the academic counselor for football scheduled them in classes with exceptionally lax professors and pigeonholed them into majors without consulting them. “The philosophy, the main focus [of the program], was to keep [the best players] eligible through any means necessary,” says Fath’ Carter, a safety from 2000 to ’03. “The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing. That’s the only thing it was about.”

Here are a handful of the accusations made and takeaways from the portion of the expose’ released Wednesday morning:

  • The 13 players who, on the record, alleged academic work was done for them or received grades they didn’t deserve are: defensive back Fath’ Carter (2000 to ’03), wide receiver William Cole (2007 to ’08), defensive back Calvin Mickens (2005 to ’07), defensive tackle Larry Brown (2005 and ’06), offensive lineman Jonathan Cruz (2002), linebacker LeRon Furr (2009 to ’10), defensive tackle Brad Girtman (2003 and ’04), safety Chris Massey (1999 to 2002) defensive end T.J. Minor (2005 and ’06), linebacker Marcus Richardson (2007), running back Herschel Sims (2011), wide receiver Artrell Woods (2006 to ’08) and defensive back Thomas Wright (2002 to ’04).
  • Tutors assigned to the players would not just assist, but would actually write an entire paper.  Woods claimed that he never wrote a single paper during his three years at OSU. “If your teacher told you to write a paper about your favorite Chinese place, all [the tutor] would ask is, ‘What’s your favorite Chinese place? That’s it. They’d do the rest,” quarterback Andre McGill (2000-01) said.  McGill denies ever receiving improper academic assistance.
  • Multiple players claimed that many of their teammates were functionally illiterate yet remained eligible.  Famously, former NFL star Dexter Manley came out in 1989 and revealed that he was functionally illiterate, never able to read above the second-grade level for most of his life.  Manley was also an ex-Oklahoma State defensive lineman, playing at the school in the late seventies.
  • Several former teammates and two former assistant coaches alleged that All-American wide receiver Dez Bryant had the majority of his classwork done for him by tutors.  Those were obviously intelligent tutors as the current Dallas Cowboys receiver was named second-team All-Academic Big 12 following the 2008 season. “You didn’t have no choice but to laugh at it,” former OSU safety Victor Johnson said of Bryant’s academic honor. also wrote that “Bryant would not go to class unless shepherded, often by a football staff member.”
  • An assistant professor assigned to the library, who was also an academic advisor to athletes for a three-year period a decade ago, would do assignments for players after they were dropped off, with the players picking up the completed work a few days later.  The professor, Ronald Keys, “told SI that he never did work for athletes but sometimes helped them with reference questions.”
  • Carter claimed that he and another teammate took two classes together, taught by the same instructor, and received A’s despite neither doing any classwork nor actually attending the class.  The teammate, Tatum Bell, denied Carter’s claims and stated to SI that he received C’s and D’s for those classes.
  • Terry Henley, an academic adviser for football since 2000 and a central focus of the latest installment. denied there was any widespread or rampant academic fraud, saying “there was never any pressure [to cheat].” He did allow, though, that “no, he didn’t promote academics.”  The “he” to whom Henley referred is former OSU and current LSU head coach Les Miles.

With that segue to Miles, it brings us to what will likely be one of the most talked-about items ripped from the latest release.  While we mentioned how SI set the academic tenor in the fifth paragraph, here’s what, in part, preceded it:

Shortly after Les Miles took over as Oklahoma State’s football coach in December 2000, he introduced an exhortation that he would use often at the end of team meetings during his four years in Stillwater. “Academics first,” Miles would say. “Football second.”

Miles’s words encapsulated one of the central pillars in the mythos of major-college football: that nothing, not even wins and losses, takes precedence over educating young athletes. The reality is that when jobs and money are at stake, priorities quickly skew.

As Miles said, “Academics first,” he would hold up two fingers. And as he said, “Football second,” he would hold up one.

Oh, Les.  The madcap Mad Hatter strikes again.

For his part, Miles claimed the gesture was a “moment of humor,” reiterating that “I always said, and I always meant, that academics was the most important thing.”

One final takeaway from the academic portion of the program: OSU football has seen just over 50 percent of its players graduate since 2003.  If there was such rampant academic fraud, shouldn’t that number be appreciably higher?

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36 Responses to “Academic fraud the focus of latest SI installment on OSU”
  1. crazycane says: Sep 11, 2013 11:00 AM


  2. overratedgators says: Sep 11, 2013 11:27 AM

    At what point does this become a problem for Miles? Is there any risk he could be accused of deliberately turning a blind eye – or worse, covering this up – and end up facing a Jim Tressel-like “show cause” order, thus ending his current job at LSU?

  3. dhlions says: Sep 11, 2013 11:30 AM

    What’s really curious here is what implications this could have for an investigation into LSU.

  4. mogogo1 says: Sep 11, 2013 11:36 AM

    The Dexter Manley connection is a HUGE stretch. How many coaching regimes did they go through between the late ’70s and when Les Miles came on board?

    But who would be surprised by any of this? Remember Johnny Manziel recently complaining about how other students mob him so badly he was “forced” to take all his classes online? By his own admission, for spring semester he was only on campus once a month. Like that doesn’t totally invite academic fraud?

  5. datrout24 says: Sep 11, 2013 11:44 AM

    No, the number graduating wouldn’t necessarily be higher. The extreme level of extra help was probably reserved for the top players, 10-20% at most. The second-stringers are on their own.

  6. jcarne9014 says: Sep 11, 2013 11:55 AM

    Please! Are you kidding me? How does these even qualify as a news story? Every few years, something like this comes out…the NCAA, the boosters and everyone else involved feigns shock and horror at these allegations…then the boosters take out their checkbooks and the cycle continues. This has been going on at EVERY major college for decades. If you think your school does not participate in things like this, you are either not paying attention, naive, in denial, or some combination of all of the above.

    As for Miles, nothing will happen to him. Nothing EVER happens to the coaches…they just move on. Every school that Lou Holtz has ever coached (NC State, Minnesota, Arkansas, Notre Dame, and South Carolina) has been hit with probation immediately after his departure. More recently, see Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly.

    This is the system folks. It will never change.

  7. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:12 PM

    Do you think a reason they approached you was because they thought you were mad that you had lost the starting quarterback job while at OSU?
    Pogi: I think that’s exactly right. He was trying to get me to go that route. But I wasn’t pissed off at Oklahoma State. He said ‘Oh, Pogi, they did you wrong.’ And I was like, ‘well, I enjoyed my time at Oklahoma State.’ And he kept trying to say ‘but they did you so wrong. I said ‘well, I may have had (my disagreements) with coach, but I enjoyed my time.’ It was nothing against the program. But that’s the route he was trying to take. You know what I mean? They did you wrong and here’s your opportunity to do something about it. But it didn’t go over with me. I’m just going to tell you the truth, which I did. The whole thing was just really, really awkward to me. And, like I said, I have done plenty of interviews to know the guys in the media are pretty forthcoming and ‘hey, we are going to do this.’ He is not one of those guys. I’ll just say that.

  8. BrownsTown says: Sep 11, 2013 12:13 PM

    “You didn’t have no choice but to laugh at it,”

    I bet he only had a 3.6 GPA at Ok St.

  9. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:16 PM

    Were you recorded and, if you were recorded, did you know about it?
    Pogi: No. He never said anything. He just started conversing. All of this was just small talk. We were just conversing and he just brought up certain things and then he just kind of got into it, like did you know this? I’m just sitting there like, whoa, that’s pretty crazy. He never stated that he was recording the conversation or anything like that.

    He didn’t put a recorder on the table or you didn’t see a recorder?
    Pogi: Nope. He sure didn’t.

    He just took notes on a notepad?
    Pogi: He didn’t even take notes. We were just conversing. It was just a conversation in my office. He didn’t take notes. He didn’t pull out a (recorder). He didn’t define anything. He just wanted to talk to me about it, you know? I said, ‘oh, OK.’ Again, I’m thinking that this is something else, like OSU quarterbacks from back in the day and wanting to quote me on what I thought about so-and-so or whatever. That’s really what I thought this was about. He did not put a (recorder) up there and say ‘this is an interview for Sports Illustrated. I’m going to be recording this.’ None of that happened. Absolutely not.

    – From Tulsa World

    If SI has the tapes I want to hear the very beginning, you know, where any respected reporter places the recording device on the table and then states on the recording that it is being recorded.

  10. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:16 PM

    why are my posts being taken down?

  11. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:17 PM

    If you are going to remove my posts at least contact me with a reason

  12. John Taylor says: Sep 11, 2013 12:20 PM

    Because you are posting the same copy & paste things on every OSU post; that’s called spamming. I understand you wanting to defend your school, but you’ve gone way over the line with the spam. Do it again, you’ll be banned.

    There ya go. We clear?

  13. gopokes0714 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:24 PM


    I have every right to post facts on any post relevant. correct?

    I do understand the anti spam policy, I just don’t agree with it here because it is relevant to this article, and I am not posting it several times on the same article.

    There was a post here that only addressed today allegations. why was that removed?

    Thank you

  14. seanb20124 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:29 PM

    Herschel Sims, he was kicked out of school for theft.

  15. John Taylor says: Sep 11, 2013 12:35 PM

    I’m not going to get into a comment section pissing match with you. You copy & paste the same stuff into different posts, it will get deleted. You continue to do that, you will get banned. It’s that simple, regardless of what “rights” you think you have.

    Those are my final words on the topic. You should now be very, very clear on where things stand.

  16. nirvana504 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:43 PM

    Yawn. Excuse me while I hold my outrage

  17. jdillydawg says: Sep 11, 2013 12:55 PM

    Who are the lame lackeys that do all this work for these guys? Are they just students struggling their way through college and need the money? Are they just saying, “Let me be your bitch?” so they can earn a degree and go off and be corrupt in the corporate world? Are they running Bank of America now?

    How much were they paid, I wonder? How come nobody goes after them? Aren’t they as big a part of the problem?

  18. padraighansen says: Sep 11, 2013 1:36 PM

    I’m curious – and I’ve heard / read parts of this elsewhere – is that, while they list the years the players were part of the program, they do not address how the players ended their time at Oklahoma State. Were they kicked off, dismissed from school, graduate, transfer, leave for the draft, etc.?

    While I’ve heard that all players were dismissed, that doesn’t seem right. Any insight would be greatly appreciated – and truthfully, it’s something the writers should have addressed upfront.

  19. tulsacyfan says: Sep 11, 2013 1:50 PM

    These articles amount to nothing more than a whole lot of hearsay. Look, the whole premise of finding a school that made a “meteoric rise” even has holes. OSU’s rise was due to Boone Pickens’ money creating an incredible atmosphere, duh. If you want to find a school that has made a meteoric rise, take a look at Baylor athletics. All of a sudden they have great football, a heisman winner, great women’s basketball and the best women’s player in the country, men’s basketball comes back from the criminal activities and thoughts of shuttering the program to be very good, etc. , etc. I am an Iowa State fan and it wasn’t that long ago that Baylor was one of like two sure football “W’s” on the schedule. If SI really wanted to look at an athletic program that made a meteoric rise (zero past tradition of success, bad location, etc, etc) that leaves you scratching your head why they didn’t look at Baylor.

  20. dhardy8207 says: Sep 11, 2013 1:50 PM

    The frustrating fact here is that despite there is a hint of wrong doing, proof is always needed before a program is crucified for accusations that are unfounded. However, even if there should be enough evidence to penalize OSU or those involved money will prevail. T Boone Pickens will buy OSU out of this and all will be forgotten. It is different from USC in a sense because here there is no question of awards, titles, etc. to forfeit.

  21. lastdukestreetking says: Sep 11, 2013 2:16 PM

    Wait, no pissing matches in the comments section??? Isn’t that what it’s for?

  22. packerbadger says: Sep 11, 2013 2:50 PM

    The south is as the south does….esp the $ECheat conference. Enuff said.

  23. mrsmell says: Sep 11, 2013 3:18 PM

    Why is that former NCAA players who didnt make it to the NFL/NBA always trying to get some fame after it is said and done.
    “Yeah, I was paid, cheated my way through college, got my degree and Im still dumb. But hey, you know that guy in the NFL, yeah, he cheated more than me.”

  24. watchfullhose says: Sep 11, 2013 5:12 PM

    Ummm….wasn’t Dez Bryant a 2 time academic all-American? Exactly.

  25. watchfullhose says: Sep 11, 2013 5:14 PM

    Mrsmell-because active players aren’t going to admit that they cheated to make it to the NFL.

  26. dcroz says: Sep 11, 2013 5:59 PM

    packerbadger: When did Oklahoma start being considered “the South?” And Les Miles is a Meechigun grad, from your beloved and besotted Big Ten. Perhaps you were asleep when they taught geography at Whiskeyconsin…or maybe that IS what they taught you.

  27. mrsmell says: Sep 11, 2013 6:09 PM

    watchfullhose says:
    Sep 11, 2013 5:14 PM
    Mrsmell-because active players aren’t going to admit that they cheated to make it to the NFL.

    I know. My point was that they all cheated. What is the glory in bringing someone down when they did exactly the same thing, but couldnt reach the big time and big paydays. Is the NCAA going to pay them big dollars for them to open up their mouths in trial? Probably be used and abused and back to their normal life again.
    Move on with your life. It may come back to hurt them if their current employers find out they scammed their way into a degree they didnt deserve.

  28. dcroz says: Sep 11, 2013 6:10 PM

    Now that the comment to the resident Yankee expatriate has been made, allow me to say that much of this story is laughable. As someone has pointed out already, what does a player who left OSU more than two decades before Miles set foot in Stillwater have to do with anything that allegedly took place this century? And I don’t think there are any rules against players being placed in “easy” courses and majors; in fact, I’m sure it takes place to some degree everywhere–even at top-rated academic institutions–and the practice is at least as old as leather helmets (the infamous-and-cliched “underwater basket weaving” class). Now, if there was actual academic fraud going on, then that becomes a major issue, but how does anyone actually prove it several years after the fact? This article is like many that we have seen recently where allegations are made about things conveniently outside the NCAA’s statute of limitations so that there will not be any investigation that may show them to be in part or in whole the figment of the reporter’s imagination, while the sand reporter gets notoriety for having “broke” the story.


  29. dcroz says: Sep 11, 2013 6:13 PM

    Should be “same reporter” (thank you Autocorrect) though it may actually be more appropriate.

  30. godsowncrunk says: Sep 11, 2013 8:24 PM

    I was at OSU from 01-04 for grad school and was friends with a few football players – while I’m sure there is a whiff of truth to some of this, it’s borderline unthinkable that many of these allegations weren’t common knowledge. I had friends who were tutors and none of them mentioned any of this (most tutors expect to be paid well for writing original papers for cheaters). I have friends who are donors and boosters and they too say they hadn’t heard a word about any of this (yes, I know the naivete is staggering in this one).

    Before T. Boone donated his money, Jim Halligan (former President of the university, now emeritus) started OSU’s Foundation in the 1990s, intended to bring donor money into the school. Most of the donations were small, but it began to have an effect on the school in a positive way. When T. Boone donated his money, OSU became a money-grubbing institution of the highest order – G-Iba arena used to be one of the hardest places into the country to visit until the school priced people out of the seats, and now most games are played in front of houses that aren’t packed. I get weekly emails from OSU asking for money, another practice that I doubt is uncommon among larger, football-happy universities.

    For better and worse, OSU is a much different university than it was even 15 years ago, and shocker, it’s all about the money. If we were cheating we were doing a poor job of it – other than beating OU a couple times during the Miles years and getting a few more wins, the “risk” of these allegations certainly don’t merit the “rewards” we got on the field.

  31. goodknave says: Sep 11, 2013 8:24 PM

    This is part of the reason why college football is such a joke. It’s worth nothing more than a big yawn.

    Wake me up when they play on Sundays.

  32. godsowncrunk says: Sep 11, 2013 8:27 PM

    Forgot this: keep in mind that OSU’s athletic department sold its home games with Nebraska to be played at Kansas City for some ungodly reason. We still “sell” our opener each year to whichever stadium in owner in Texas will pay top-dollar, costing the locally-owned businesses a great deal of coin. If there is controversy to be mined out of OSU, it’s how a drive to increase our foundation turned into prostituting our school to the highest bidder.

  33. bronzestarusmc says: Sep 11, 2013 11:25 PM

    This is so stupid! What is true, what is not true, a joke! I do not think for one moment this is true totally. But, I do think that there is something that is wrong, there is some truth in every accusation,

  34. florida727 says: Sep 12, 2013 1:14 PM

    Darn it. Now I have to go all the way over to the bathroom. JT says there’s no pissing in the comment section. Oh well…

  35. John Taylor says: Sep 12, 2013 1:17 PM

    @florida727: Now, now, now. I never said no pissing matches matches in the comments section. I merely stated that I wasn’t going to get into a pissing match.

    For everybody else, urinate away…

  36. mikeevergreen says: Sep 15, 2013 2:03 PM

    Let’s see: Oklahoma State plays in a stadium named after a green-mailer (corporate raider AKA “shareholder’s rights advocate”). Anyone who grew up in the 70’s and was a young adult in the 80’s knows how scummy that type is, so it’s no surprise that this went down at Oklahoma State University. Please, Oklahomans, be repulsed at this in the same manner you were repulsed by OU in the late 80’s. Oh wait! You weren’t repulsed by that.

    Never mind.

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