Oklahoma State University is in hot water, and the temperature may only rise. Sports Illustrated today ran part one of a five-part series on the Cowboys and "the measures that a program will take to become elite." The magazine's 10-month investigation saw it talk to 64 former players, and today's story is all about cash. Specifically, the payments that some players (about 15 to 20 each year) are said to have received from 2001 through 2011, sometimes for on-field successes, sometimes independent of performance. The bonus money came in different forms—cash was inserted into a fresh pair of socks or slipped into their $15 per diem envelopes, for instance—by way of assistant coaches, boosters, and "no-show and sham jobs." Some players took in $2,000 a year; "a few stars" were said to have been given $25,000.
Eight players went on the record about receiving payments; 29 other players were named by their teammates as recipients. "It was just like in life when you work," says Thomas Wright, who played from 2002-2004 and says he took no money. "The better the job you do, the more money you make." In advance of the report, OSU athletic director Mike Holder yesterday said he had apologized to all the Big 12 athletic directors, that the NCAA has been notified and an investigator has been assigned, the Tulsa World reports. "We're not going to try to cover anything up. ... Our goal is to separate fact from fiction and then we can start dealing with it." Click to read SI's allegations in full. Still to come: tales of academic misconduct, drug use, and sex used as a recruitment tool. (Read more Oklahoma State Cowboys stories.)