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10 Takeaways From SI's 'The Academics' Report On Oklahoma State


Yesterday, Sports Illustrated kicked off a five-part series entitled 'The Dirty Game', which is exposing the dirtier side of college athletics, using Oklahoma State as the example of a program that has allegedly gone about things the wrong way. The first release was all about 'The Money' -- essentially, players getting paid to play. SI's report came with immense criticism, but the publication is standing by its work.

Today, the second part of the series was released: 'The Academics'. Here are ten takeaways (remember, this is all alleged) that we had from part two:

  • Academics were a sham, and the goal was to keep players passing classes by any means possible, rather than educating them.
  • 13 players admitted that they participated in some form of academic misconduct, and they named 16 others who were also involved.
  • Les Miles knew what his players were there for -- he would say, "Academics first," and he would hold up two fingers. And as he said, "Football second," he would hold up one. "You heard his words but you saw what he was doing," says Doug Bond, a Cowboys offensive lineman from 2002 to '04. (Miles said this happened once as "a moment of humor."
  • Dez Bryant was once honored as a 2nd-team academic All-Big 12 player, and his teammates found it a joke: "You didn't have no choice but to laugh at it," says Victor Johnson, a Cowboys safety from 2008 to '10. Bryant's struggles in the classroom were apparent to those around him.
  • Professors were giving players As and Bs even though they often did zero work. Teachers tended to be even more favorable to the players during football season, because they cared about Oklahoma State football.
  • "If your teacher told you to write a paper about your favorite Chinese place, all [the tutor] would ask is, 'What's your favorite Chinese place?' " says Andre McGill, a quarterback in 2000 and '01 who denies receiving improper assistance. "That's it. They'd do the rest."
  • Four players and two former assistants claim that there were functionally illiterate players on the team.
  • Ricky Coxeff recalls a 2003 team meeting in which Miles asked one of the Cowboys to write house on a chalkboard. "He spelled it H-A-S," says Coxeff. "I was like, Oh, my God, how is he even in this room? How can someone who can't spell come to a major college?"
  • Players didn't even get to choose their academic track. Oklahoma State football's advisor, Terry Henley, would put them in any classes that he thought better fit "their aptitude", which generally resulted in them taking the easiest courses with the most lax professors.
  • Players have increasingly moved to online courses, and many classes don't have traditional classes anymore. According to the players, online classes are easier to negotiate grades after doing no work all semester.

The third installment of the series is set to be unveiled tomorrow, and it's expected to get uglier. Here's a preview of the third section, 'The Drugs':

As the Cowboys became one of the nation's elite teams, players were not only using drugs, but also dealing them. It was common for some players to smoke marijuana before games. Says Donnell Williams, a linebacker on the 2006 team, "Drugs were everywhere." School officials largely ignored use and abuse by elite players but cast aside those players deemed expendable.

We'll keep you posted.