SI report delivers black eye to DeForest
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sports Illustrated's special report on Oklahoma State's football program can be summed up in one word regarding current WVU assistant Joe DeForest.
Damning. And the magazine has only released the first of a five-part series.
In case you're unaware, SI is unveiling the result of a 10-month investigation on OSU claiming improper payments to players, bonuses, sham jobs, academic misconduct, use and peddling of drugs and the use of sex as a recruiting tool.
DeForest, WVU's associate head coach and special teams coordinator, is front and center in the report after spending over a decade in Stillwater.
In part one of the series, released online Tuesday at SI.com, ex-Cowboy players claimed DeForest was in charge of an OSU bonus system, which purportedly paid players based on specific performances, like sacks, quarterback hurries, etc.
According to the report: "When players met with their position coaches after games, according to [ex-defensive tackle Brad] Girtman, DeForest would go from group to group and discuss with the players what they had done. 'Your stats definitely dictated how much you were getting,' Girtman said."
DeForest replied by saying, "I have never paid a player for on-field performance. I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity."
Later in the report, though, it's claimed that "DeForest and [OSU] assistant Larry Porter ... also made straight payments to players."
"Girtman says that when he arrived in Stillwater in the summer of 2003, DeForest handed him a debit card with $5,000 on it, which was periodically refilled."
It was written that players would visit DeForest's house and receive payment for faux jobs.
"We'd go over to the house," said ex-running back Seymore Shaw, "and [Darrent] Williams would fake like he's starting up a lawn mower ... so people could see him. [Then he'd] cut it off. [He'd] start up a Weed Eater. Cut it off. [For that he'd get] $400, $500, $600."
The report goes on. It goes on about OSU. It goes on about DeForest. And the allegations will continue to be rolled out. According to insiders, DeForest won't be a central figure in the next two parts of the series, but will return to star in part four as the alleged ringleader of a sex-for-signing setup.
Note that Sports Illustrated named names. The report is very detailed. It is very thorough. The magazine claims to have interviewed 64 former and current OSU players and football staffers.
WVU administrators must take the allegations seriously. And, according to those inside the school athletic circle, they are. An internal investigation is ongoing to determine whether the alleged infractions of OSU are taking place in Morgantown.
According to those in the know, nothing inappropriate has turned up yet. "There's zero indication from current or former players of payment and no evidence of a bonus system," said one administrator, who asked to remain anonymous.
The school is also examining how per diems are doled out. According to Sports Illustrated, payments were sometimes made to OSU players in envelopes after games. "After home games players get a per diem of around $15; after away games the NCAA allows them to receive an amount equal to what the university allots for any athletic department employee on a work trip," says the report. It's alleged OSU's envelopes were sometimes stuffed with extra cash.
As mentioned, later in the series, Sports Illustrated will claim OSU's Orange Pride, a football program "hostess group," had members that would have sex with recruits. An administrator at WVU said tours in Morgantown are given through the WVU Visitors Center.
"[WVU recruiting coord1inator] Ryan Dorchester will call the Visitors Center," said the administrator. "One of the boys or girls there will take the recruit and parents around."
Surely there are exceptions to that practice. And few are naive enough to believe infractions like those reported don't happen at many schools.
The series, however, spells out a stunning harmonic convergence of all possible infractions. If the claims are true, this could be the most sensational scandal to rock college football since that of Miami.
And, again, DeForest is a central figure - which puts WVU athletic director Oliver Luck on the spot.
Certainly Luck's first duty is to investigate his program for misdeeds. If OSU is guilty, school athletic director Mike Holder's job is in serious jeopardy. All has been on his watch since 2005. Luck doesn't want to be in Holder's position - especially at his alma mater.
Next, though, Luck has to examine the status of DeForest.
These are serious allegations. A source said DeForest has even been moved to hire a lawyer.
The question is, what does WVU do - especially if DeForest has been clean in Morgantown? Surely all of WVU's players have read or heard about the report. Ditto all the parents of those players.
It might be the wise move to suspend DeForest with pay until the water moves from murky to clear. There must be awkwardness or uncomfortable feelings as the players deal with the coach. Heck, there might be awkwardness within the staff. It's the definition of a distraction.
Word is, though, WVU's administration will wait until the entire Sports Illustrated series is released to examine all the evidence. Of course, the NCAA will conduct its own investigation. Eventually, through that governing body, DeForest could be hit with a show-cause penalty. That means whatever sanctions are handed down to him over actions at OSU would transfer to WVU.
NCAA investigations, however, are usually protracted. WVU president Jim Clements and Luck will have to determine what's best for the university and program in a relatively short span.
As it stands, envisioning a way DeForest can be kept is difficult. A NewsOK headline said, "Oklahoma State football: Les Miles, Joe DeForest will get the black eyes."
Clements and Luck have to determine if that extends to WVU and its football program. Is DeForest's presence a positive or a negative? Recruiters at schools vying with WVU for a player can simply print out the report and make sure parents see it.
Also, keep in mind head coach Dana Holgorsen was not only at Oklahoma State for a year (2010) while the alleged misdeeds were taking place, but hired DeForest from there. It's easy for some to jump to conclusions.
Again, no immediate action in regard to DeForest is expected in Morgantown. Administrators there will allow the entire series to unfold before making a call, if there is to be one to be made.
Part one of the Sports Illustrated series, however, portrayed the associate coach in anything but a flattering light.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.