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Sports Illustrated report says DeForest paid players at Oklahoma State

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The initial installment of a five-part Sports Illustrated investigative series says eight former Oklahoma State players admit to receiving cash while at the school while 30 players implicated teammates for taking money

In the middle of many of the allegations is Joe DeForest, who today is West Virginia's associate head coach, but was an assistant coach with the Cowboys from 2001-11.

The story, published Tuesday morning on the Sports Illustrated website, is the product of 10 months of research and interviewing. Sixty-four former players, as well as current and former members of the staff, were interviewed. The first story cites former players who say DeForest was a central figure in a program where players were paid for making certain plays in games.

DeForest is also expected to be mentioned in the fourth part to be released Friday. It is to detail the "Orange Pride" hostess program that helped the Cowboys with on-campus recruiting. Sports Illustrated revealed in a press release Monday that "a small subset of the group had sex with recruits, a violation of NCAA rules."

WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck released a statement Saturday in which he revealed the school had an announced an independent inquiry and contacted the NCAA. WVU third-year Coach Dana Holgorsen, who worked at Oklahoma State with DeForest in 2010, has deferred his comments to Luck's statement.

Former Cowboys players said DeForest shared the rates with the players for their performance and that DeForest would go around after the game and tell players what their statistics earned.

The story said between 15 and 20 players were paid in a season and most could receive between $2,000 and $10,000 annually, though some star players made as at least $25,000. Brad Girtman, a former defensive tackle, told Sports Illustrated a quarterback hurry was worth $50, a tackle between $75 and $100 and a sack between $200 and $250.

Former linebacker/defensive end Rodrick Johnson told Sports Illustrated that it was common knowledge DeForest set rewards of between $100 and $500 for a big play on special teams. Former cornerback/wide receiver Chris Wright said he saw DeForest hand stacks of bills to certain players.

Girtman and Johnson admitted taking money as a player, while Wright said he did not.

DeForest did not speak to reporters after Saturday's loss to No. 14 Oklahoma, the same day news of the pending investigative project broke. He has denied the allegations to WVU and now to Sports Illustrated.

"I have never paid a player for on-field performance," he told Sports Illustrated. "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."

The story also alleges that DeForest directed players to boosters who would give the players money and that DeForest, who worked under Les Miles and Mike Gundy, paid players for jobs they never performed.

Girtman was a regarded recruit from Houston, an area DeForest is known to recruit with success. Girtman said when he committed to Oklahoma State in January 2004 that DeForest provided him with a list of boosters and their telephone numbers. Girtman said DeForest instructed Girtman to call a specific person on the list if he needed something. Girtman said he never contacted the booster.

DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, on the Cowboys staff from 2002-04 and now an assistant at Texas, are said to have made straight payments to players. Girtman said when he made it to campus in the summer of 2003 that DeForest gave him a debit card with $5,000 in the card's account. Girtman said the account was occasionally replenished.

Former cornerback Ricky Coxeff told Sports Illustrated he periodically waited in a car outside of DeForest's home while star cornerback Darrent Williams and star running back Tatum Bell visited DeForest and returned to the car with cash.

Former running back Seymore Shaw told Sports Illustrated there were many times he went with Williams to DeForest's home and witnessed DeForest pay Williams for yard work Williams never performed.

DeForest told Sports Illustrated he did pay players who worked at his house but "paid them fair market value based on services rendered." That said, Sports Illustrated reported that Oklahoma State's compliance office does not have a record of clearing a player to work for DeForest.

WVU has already begun its look into the matter, work that includes tracing DeForest's steps since he arrived in January 2012. The school will talk to current and former players who played for or were recruited by DeForest, who has overseen a long list of players as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach last season and the special teams coordinator this season.

The Mountaineers only recently came off a two-year probation period that was a penalty of the NCAA violations case that involved how former coaches Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart oversaw their program. However, that probation period required regular involvement by the compliance department and constant monitoring and reporting of the football program.  

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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