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Ex-Oklahoma State players continue assailing SI report

Aso Pogi

As expected, the backlash against Sports Illustrated‘s expose on the Oklahoma State football program has been swift, relentless and quite vocal.

OSU mega-booster T. Boone Pickens expressed disappointment in the “sensational allegations” leveled by SI against the program to which he’s donated hundreds of millions of dollars, intimating that the credibility of the writers is more in question than the OSU of today.  Former players by the dozen took to social media and the press to defend a program they were part of, claiming to a man that there was nothing to the allegations in the first in a series of reports alleging illicit payments to multiple players.

One of those who spoke up was former Oklahoma State quarterback Aso Pogi, who was one of several sources quoted by name in the SI piece.  In the article, it’s claimed by Pogi himself that he and a teammate lived at the ranch of an OSU booster rent-free one summer.  In a subsequent radio interview, however, an incredulous Pogi claimed that he was misquoted and his statements were taken out of context by the writers.

Just straight-up,” Pogi said when asked during a radio interview yesterday if he was asked leading questions by the writers or “straight-up” misquoted. “For example, the quote I said that, ‘Wow, it’s a big deal, because I was the starting quarterback,’ that was in reference to, as he was quoting off all of the allegations, I was repeating it back to him. So he would make allegations about OSU about football players and I’m sitting there just kind of like, ‘Wow, this is crazy. You mean this was going on?’

“So I’m just basically repeating what he’s saying, and then I said, ‘Man, that would have been a big deal, because I was the starting quarterback.’ That is the way it was actually being said. And then he took that quote and said, ‘It’s a big deal, because I was the starting quarterback.'”

Pogi also claimed during the course of the radio interview that he never personally witnessed any player being paid by a coach or booster for his performance on the football field. “There was none of this stuff going on… none of that was going on in my time, never saw anything like it,” Pogi said in a transcript provided by the Daily Oklahoman.

Continuing a theme from former players, Pogi also alluded to “low-character guys” who gave on-the-record quotes.  Tulsa World wrote that “[o]f the 12 former players who either pointed fingers or admitted guilt, nine either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit. Of those, several had criminal records.”

That’s just a small sampling of the backlash against George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans, the SI writers whose names are attached to the series.  Evans in particular has been then subject of an intense backlash — see Whitlock, Jason — although Dohrmann, thanks to his piece a couple of years back on the Ohio State football program, hasn’t been spared public scrutiny.  Dohrmann defended the investigative work that he and Evans did to the Daily Oklahoman, telling the paper that he found the players the two spoke to be “[v[ery credible, or we wouldn’t write these things.”

As to Pogi’s claims that he was misquoted, Dohrmann stated that all of the interviews went through several layers of editorial review before the green light was given.

“All those people who say they’ve been misquoted, their conversations were recorded,” Dohrmann said. “I’ve heard them, editors here have heard them, lawyers here have heard them. We are absolutely comfortable that they were quoted accurately.”

The back and forth between the two sides of the issue will continue today, with Part 2 being released in short order.

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22 Responses to “Ex-Oklahoma State players continue assailing SI report”
  1. be4bama says: Sep 11, 2013 9:18 AM

    SI = National Enquirer

  2. jimr10 says: Sep 11, 2013 9:53 AM

    Remember the Duke lacrosse case..everyone rushed to judgement. I personally do not believe anything in S.I.

  3. friarjack61 says: Sep 11, 2013 9:53 AM

    Those who are involved with illegal or unscrupulous activities, will never admit to any wrong doing. Their self-centered pride, and financial well being, has more value in their daily life, than being righteous. As for certain players, lying has always been easy, when money is involved.

  4. ncsportsfan says: Sep 11, 2013 10:12 AM

    The media is always above reproach. Never tells half truths, never seeks simply to sell magazines, newspapers or get hits on a web site at the expense of people who have no means of retort. The power of innuendo is a terrible thing and an avenue the media adores. How could ANYONE think a media member would conjure up a story simply to make money?! The nerve!!!

    What a joke the media is these days. SMH

  5. sportsdrenched says: Sep 11, 2013 10:20 AM

    I’ve thought for a while that SI is the standard when it comes to sport journalism and in-depth reporting. As mentioned above, this is from the same guy who did the Ohio State peice so there is some credibility.

    If SI is out over their ski’s on this, laywer up, take to court and we’ll see who is right.

  6. bigdinla says: Sep 11, 2013 10:34 AM

    How does Thayer still have a job? That guy is a pure pot stirring hack. I figured the Auburn story he printed would have been the end of him.

  7. jimmy53 says: Sep 11, 2013 10:50 AM

    These things happened—bank on it. Those who think that SI did it just to sell mags are right, but if you think they made it up then you don’t know how slander and libel laws work in this country.

    Watch, you’ll see a ton of people come out in the media and blast SI, but not one of them will bring a slander or libel suit against SI.

    Have you seen anyone from Miami, Auburn, or USC bring a slander/libel suit against the members of the media who reported their misdeeds???

    Hmmm, I wonder why.

  8. nirvana504 says: Sep 11, 2013 10:50 AM

    After John Barr’s false ESPN story about Mickey Loomis having a listening devise in the Superdome, I don’t believe anything these “reporters” have to say. It’s all about ratings and internet hits these days, not the truth

  9. crazycane says: Sep 11, 2013 10:51 AM


    So no one believes SI that interviewed dozens of players and coaches but everyone believes Yahoo who interviewed one?!?!?!

    The hate against Miami is comical on soooo many levels.

  10. harync says: Sep 11, 2013 10:55 AM

    Actually, the Ohio State piece is a reason to disbelieve some of the reporting. George Dohrmann merely took the investigative reporting of others (mostly Dan Wetzel) and then interviewed people who were dissatisfied with the program to get more inflammatory quotes. One of the funnier/sadder bits was that Dohrmann made a list of all the players who supposedly got tattooes, including a player who didn’t actually have the tattoo in question. Dohrmann also included a bizarre story of Jim Tressel rigging some sort of drawing for jerseys when he was an Ohio State assistant in the 1980s, just to pile on. My guess is that there is some truth to the Ok St story, but that Dohrmann exagerrated it, just like he did with Ohio State.

  11. sillec28 says: Sep 11, 2013 12:24 PM

    Of course SI has tapes of the interviews and of course the tapes were heard by editors and, more importantly, lawyers before the articles were/will be published. So it should be a simple matter to determine who’s telling the truth when players deny saying something or who say their statements were taken out of context. My money is on SI being accurate.

  12. donth8thehorns says: Sep 11, 2013 12:28 PM

    There is obviously some truth to this story! The majority of “elite” college football programs as well with mediocre programs, these kind of practices are common. Think about the “inner city” athletes that have been coddled since they were 13 years old. Recruited by a top 3 BCS program, do you think for a second alot of these kids qualify for college with their grades? Not! It’s all about $$, but that is the way it is designed & intended. The extent to which some programs cross the “lines” is a matter if debate. If you were to eliminate these practices from all programs, you would change the face of college sports forever! The only reason to single out a particular program is for some hidden agenda by someone.

  13. padraighansen says: Sep 11, 2013 12:40 PM


    While I’m sure there is some truth to this….the more I read, the more I hear from key players, and the more the credibility of the writers & their sources comes into question, the less inclined I am to believe this story.

    And let’s be very clear: We are not talking about baseball here, where hitting .300 gets you to the hall of fame. To publish this, they need to bat 1.000. Even 90% accurate is a failure.

    As for a libel suit (unless it’s spoken, it will not be slander)…..that’s tough for any party to both prove or defend. When you factor in the cost of litigation, many companies choose not to pursue litigation unless it’s a slam dunk victory – and if that’s the case, you can bet it well be settled immediately.

  14. barnesaintnoble says: Sep 11, 2013 1:02 PM

    You can get statistics to say whatever you want, and in the same vein, you can find someone to say whatever you need them to say. There will always be people unhappy with an experience, feeling wronged, or that have an axe to grind.

  15. tulsacyfan says: Sep 11, 2013 2:01 PM

    “Meteoric rise” = Baylor athletics

    OSU’s rise makes sense – if you throw that much money from a billionaire at facilities (see Phil Knight at Oregon), sooner or later the quality of the program will improve. Granted, some of the story is probably true – it happens everywhere. What I would like to know if what is in Baylor’s secret sauce to go from the true dregs of the Big 12 to where they are now in multiple sports.

  16. MasMacho says: Sep 11, 2013 2:17 PM

    Dohrman is a liar. Plain and simple. Did the same hit and run with Ohio State.

  17. ndscott50 says: Sep 11, 2013 4:07 PM

    Every time one of these stories appears the defenders come out of the woodwork with the same arguments. “The reporters are biased/lied”, “It’s a witch hunt”, “There is no proof”, etc. If this is all true sue for defamation. If you have nothing to hide take them to court. Sure everyone currently denying will have to do so under oath, but again if you did nothing wrong, what’s the problem. It’s not like OSU/T. Boone don’t have the resources to hire good lawyers.
    Until the people accused, many of whom have substantial financial resources, move from denying on twitter to denying in a court room I tend to believe the media on this.

  18. 1222tmiller says: Sep 11, 2013 5:13 PM

    Writing a sensational piece about a “public” figure or program is much harder take to court. The PSU faithful know better than anyone. Jerry is definitely a pediphile. But how much others knew / covered up is definitely in question. And it continues with the 60 Minutes Sport piece from last week. They couldn’t even bother to quote Joe Pa properly.

    “We are absolutely comfortable that they were quoted accurately”, yet I don’t see the “incontext” part.

    “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I would have done more.” The first part of the quote is always left out by SI. It doesn’t surprise me they quoted people out of context.

    ndscott50, you are delusional. And yes, there are lots of lawsuits going on over the BS around the so called PSU scandal. It just takes time to put them together.

  19. csbbw says: Sep 11, 2013 5:53 PM

    If you have to be 100% correct then consider this…In part 1 of the series SI quotes a former player as having received $500 from a booster of OSU after he committed to them as a Senior in high school (please go back and check the article for yourself). Problem is that same individual committed to a different school as a sr in high school (again please take his name and perform a search on Google. Please also search for why he left OSU). He attended pre season camp at said other school where he was informed that the school had used their “gray shirt” (term that applies to scholar athletes not meeting all academic requirements and they sit for a year practicing but not playing in order to get their academics in line) on another student athlete. In August of that year after his senior year of high school he is afforded the opportunity to attend OSU. As written by SI this young man would have received $500 in high school from an OSU booster for committing to a rival university? When asked about this on The Doug Gottlieb national radio show on CBS Sports Radio, Mr. Dohrmann changed the story to say the payment occurred after he changed from the rival school to OSU. In addition to this one mistake and subsequent gloss over SINow (video production on identifies the same individual in different interviews first as Marcus Richardson and next as Artrell Woods.

    In any walk in life. In any task worth doing. The first rule in establishing credibility is “Get it right if you’re going to be believed”. If you had 10 months to research and fact check a story. If you had no deadline to publish. Wouldn’t these have been caught? The person above had it right when it was posted SI has to have it 100% right. They didn’t. If you can find these two inaccuracies, what else is wrong? What are you supposed to believe? Do a search on one of the authors (not the Pulitzer Prize recipient). See a common thread?

  20. nmc1496 says: Sep 12, 2013 2:02 PM

    People should be smart enough to know that audio/video can be cut and spliced, right? When only one party is taping, it is pretty easy for a media person to rig a tape to look/sound like what they want.

    SI lawyers might have gone over the tapes with a fine-tooth comb; however, the tapes may have ALREADY been manipulated.

    There could have been some stuff going on – but it wasn’t like it was being portrayed.

    It is pretty telling that of the two boosters that they mentioned by name – one is dead and the other probably doesn’t have enough money to file a huge lawsuit. However, the booster who has enough money, Boone Pickens, was definitely cleared by SI because they know that Boone would sue them in a heartbeat.

    Shoddy, biased reporting. Dohrman should have researched EVANS before signing with him. Evans has a sketchy past himself.

  21. nmc1496 says: Sep 12, 2013 2:03 PM

    As to the above comment about a student signing at another school – that student was Seymore Shaw and he signed with OU – I believe that he went to school there for a week and transferred to OSU. SO, the booster who gave him money was obviously NOT an ok State booster; it was a Sooner booster.

  22. nmc1496 says: Sep 12, 2013 2:08 PM

    To Jimmy53, they made sure that all of the wrongdoings stated were by people who couldn’t afford to sue…or dead people….or statements by anonymous people…

    The thing is a joke and SI should be ashamed….and needs to go back to their soft-porn swimsuit issue to sell magazines.

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