WVU aide at center of SI report
NORMAN, Okla. - West Virginia assistant football coach Joe DeForest is at the center of a Sports Illustrated investigative report that alleges years of misconduct within Oklahoma State's football program that includes paying players and providing sex to prospective recruits.
The magazine informed OSU officials of the investigation and many of its findings late last month, according to The Oklahoman newspaper. The series of stories is expected to begin in the next few days.
DeForest is a key figure in the investigation, which alleges that the improprieties occurred primarily between 2001 and 2007 under head coaches Les Miles and Mike Gundy, but continued in some fashion as late as 2011.
DeForest was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State during all of that period, primarily as a safeties coach and special teams coordinator. Among the most damning accusations is that as recently as 2011 he was running a bonus program that paid players for specific plays.
DeForest, who was hired by WVU coach Dana Holgorsen in January of 2012 as his defensive coordinator and associate head coach, denied the accusations Saturday.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck late Saturday afternoon issued a statement in response to the news and said WVU would begin its own investigation.
"West Virginia University is aware of an upcoming investigative reporting series in Sports Illustrated which, while focused on another institution, includes allegations against one of our current assistant football coaches regarding his time of employment at his previous institution,'' Luck said. "Upon learning of the pending investigative report, WVU launched an internal review to ensure the coach's full compliance to NCAA rules while at West Virginia. The NCAA has also been contacted. While our assistant football coach has denied the allegations, it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here.''
Holgorsen also coached at Oklahoma State, although for just one year (2010).
DeForest, who is one of two WVU assistants who make $500,000 a year, spent less than a full season as the school's defensive coordinator before he was replaced by Keith Patterson. West Virginia's defense was among the worst in the nation in 2012.
DeForest is now just the team's special teams coach, one of only about a dozen assistants in the country who hold that position as a full-time job and almost certainly the highest-paid of that group. He also retained his title as associate head coach.
Initially it was believed that DeForest was not working under a formal contract. He had worked under only a term sheet his first season, one which stipulated that DeForest's "appointment is made at the will and pleasure of the Director of Athletics, and your service in this position or termination from it is at the discretion of the Director of Athletics.'' Nowhere in the letter, dated Jan. 12, 2012, was there a specific length of term mentioned.
However, WVU sources said Saturday night that between January and now DeForest has signed a formal contract. The details aren't known except that he still makes $500,000. The term of the contract and any buyouts are likely included.
The WVU source also confirmed that DeForest is no longer the only WVU assistant coach making half a million dollars annually. Patterson, the new defensive coordinator, was apparently bumped up to that figure as well, although the university never mentioned it publicly.
The Sports Illustrated project alleges that both coaches and boosters paid athletes at Oklahoma State, including paying them for jobs not performed or overpaying them, in addition to the pay-for-plays accusations.
It also alleges academic fraud, drug use and that hostesses in the Orange Pride program provided sex to recruits.
Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis issued a statement calling the accusations "deeply troubling.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.