Several Stillwater residents question the reliability of sources used in a Sports Illustrated story that makes several allegations about the Oklahoma State University football team.
“Nobody came forward with any information (who) has much credibility,” said resident Walter Kearns.
Residents say several of the sources for the story were former players who were third-stringers who were kicked off the team.
“Sometimes when people are upset, they will come back and say things that are not necessarily true because they are upset,” said J.B. Bond, a Stillwater resident who coached football at Mississippi State in the 1970s.
“I’ve seen stories and Tweets from players who said they didn’t get paid, and they were starters,” Bond said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Several people said the authors of the story were biased.
“I think anywhere you go you can find something you can dig up,” said Kearns. “I think that here we have a case of someone who didn’t have enough to write on, doesn’t have enough hack to make it somewhere else, so he’s bringing his bias in here to stir up trouble.”
Kearns said OSU is being unduly scrutinized because the team is undefeated and highly ranked.
Kearns said the SI story reminds him of when Auburn made a run for the national championship and allegations came out about quarterback Cam Newton.
“They wanted to bring a scandal out there too,” Kearns said. “I think this is going to pop up when teams are winning.”
Bond agreed, and said OSU’s recent success on the football field has come with increased focus on how that ascension occurred.
“They moved up, and they moved up fairly fast, and people want to assume they did something wrong,” Bond said.
“Given the current state of the program and (coach) Mike Gundy, I would be shocked if any of the allegations were true,” said State Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater. “I didn’t know coach (Les) Miles at all, but you just hope the allegations being made back then don’t affect us now. I don’t think that is fair to put that on the kids who are playing now or the coaching staff that is there now.”
Stillwater resident Brian Alford said OSU’s response to the allegations was reasoned and responsible.
“I thought it was very appropriate. It wasn’t the instant denial that would have fueled a lot of debate,” he said. “It was like, ‘Let’s get to the bottom of this.’ I thought that was very smart of the university.”
Stillwater resident Lee Porter said the magazine in particular and the print media in general needs to sell issues. Porter said he would prefer to believe former OSU player Markelle Martin, who said players did not get money for high performance.
“Common sense will prevail,” Kearns said. “Even in a society that doesn’t have too much of it left.”
MARK ROUNTREE is news editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.