Is Oklahoma State guilty of a decade of violations? Maybe, but do we care? Photo: USA Today Sports
We have been here before and we most certainly will be here again at some point. Sports Illustrated is underway with a week-long investigative look in to the Oklahoma State football program's alleged misdeeds, accusing coaches and boosters of operating a systematic reward system that paid players for their on-field achievements, working around the academic system to ensure players had good enough grades to play and entice recruits to come to the program by setting them up with sexual partners on recruiting visits.Add to that phony jobs and hundred-dollar handshakes and you would think the story of Oklahoma State's sudden rise to college football relevancy would be dropping jaws and leaving the program to burn at the stakes.
If so, then you would be finding yourself in 1985, or maybe even 1955. We have become so immune to the blatant disregard for rules that we hardly raise an eyebrow while reading through the 3,379 words Sports Illustrated revealed today detailing the alleged NCAA violations that took place over the span of 12 years at Oklahoma State. And guess what, there are more details to come later this week. Sports Illustrated has broken down this investigative story in to different parts, with Wednesday bringing a a closer look at the alleged academic fraud, Thursday detailing alleged drug use and dealing among players, and Friday closing with a look at the arranged sex for recruits.
In short, Sports Illustrated accuses Oklahoma State breaking the rules by paying players and providing other benefits in hopes of becoming a big time college football program. The timing of Oklahoma State's rise to Big 12 prominence and the events detailed do provide a sketchy image, but this remains a story based on taking former players at their word against the accused individuals denying the reports. What we are lacking is physical proof either way.
If the alleged acts Sports Illustrated reports are in fact true, then Oklahoma State should be issued whatever NCAA penalty can be enforced. But the faith I have in the NCAA to be able to follow through on any of this is another topic. The point is rather simple. If you break the rules, you have to pay a price. If we are not holding institutions accountable for their actions, then what is the point of having rules in the first place?
Do not take this is not an attack on Oklahoma State. I know you are probably reading this saying "But Kevin, this stuff happens everywhere!" This is my point. We accept violations taking place in recruiting and in the game. There is nothing we can actually do about it either. Acts like these have probably been going on since the dawn of college football. We would be naive to think otherwise. It may have always existed but it may not have been covered to the extent it is today.
I really do wish I could sit here and tell you each college football program operates in a clean way, I really do. This report in to Oklahoma State is not ground-breaking nor is it shocking or revealing. Maybe some dirty laundry at Oklahoma State was discovered, but will this change anything? No, of course not. We point fingers at the NCAA on a regular basis, but even they can be powerless when it comes to casual hundred dollar handshakes. Catching them would be like catching a golden snitch. Unless one flies right in the mouth of the NCAA, there is practically nothing that can be done about it at Oklahoma State or anywhere else.
You can read the full Sports Illustrated story here. Links to their related content will be available through that link once it goes live.