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Les Miles Involvement in OSU Investigation, Pt.1 - Paying Players

Brian Bahr, Getty Images Sport

It's going to be a full week of the SI investigation into Oklahoma State as they trickle out the information. I'm going to do what I can to distill out the parts involving Les Miles and what consequences, if any, he or LSU might face. Today's piece involves players getting paid cash for both on-field performance and for little to no work done at jobs from boosters.

First up, SI claims Miles allowed boosters access to the program and facilities in ways that allowed for easy exchange of cash between boosters and players.

Bob Simmons, the Cowboys' coach from 1995 to 2000, drew a firm line when it came to allowing boosters access to his players. "He wouldn't even let them in the locker room," says QB Andre McGill, who was a freshman during Simmons's final season.

Miles took a more hospitable approach after he arrived in 2001 from the Dallas Cowboys. According to several players, boosters were permitted in the locker room; they were often on team flights and bus trips; they turned up at the training table. The boosters were at their most visible after a big victory, and no win was bigger during Miles's tenure than a 16-13 upset at No. 4 Oklahoma in the teams' regular-season finale of 2001. The Cowboys' victory kept the archrival Sooners from a shot at the BCS title game and sparked OSU's surge under Miles. In the locker room after the game, boosters approached key players and slipped cash into their hands. "We are talking about $500 handshakes," says safety Fath' Carter (2000 to '03), who observed others accepting such payments. (Miles denies that players were paid and says he gave boosters less access to the program, not more.)

The report also alleges that Miles pointed players to boosters who would offer jobs that would vastly overpay players for little to no menial labor actually being done

Early in his first season Shaw says he went to Miles and told him he needed a car to get to his classes. Shaw says Miles replied, "I can lead you to where you can get some help." Shortly after, Shaw says, he was introduced to Kay Norris, an Oklahoma State graduate affectionately called Momma Norris, who ran the school's athletic museum on campus, Heritage Hall. Shaw says that whenever he needed money while in Stillwater he called her. He says that Norris paid him $400 to take a Christmas tree out of her attic, and that numerous times she paid him $700 to clean the floorboards of rental houses. "I was there about an hour," Shaw says of each cleaning job.

So what's the impact? Putting aside the "one man's word against another" problem of this story, it paints a picture that while Miles may not have been directly involved in paying players, he allegedly knew what was happening in his program and allowed it to continue with a hands-off approach. It's nearly the definition of the dreaded "lack of institutional control" violation.

Would Miles see NCAA penalties over this? It's hard to say at this point, but probably not. The alleged violations occurred well outside the NCAAs four year window, so it's unlikely at this point that they even do anything with the information. We'll have to wait and see what the rest of the SI pieces released later this week reveal.

There is also the small matter of Larry Porter, OSU RB coach from 2001-2004, who later joined Miles at LSU for a few years before taking the HC job at Memphis and is now the RB coach at Texas. Porter is implicated by name as one of the coaches who ran a performance bonus system.

DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, who was running backs coach from 2002 to '04, 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. Ricky Coxeff, a cornerback in 2003 and '04, says he waited in the car on several occasions as Williams and Bell visited DeForest at his home and then returned with cash. Shaw says that Porter gave him $100 "four or five times," telling him to use the money to get something to eat. Several weeks before the start of fall camp in '03, Carter says that Porter gave him "a couple hundred bucks" in the locker room so that incoming freshmen Coxeff and defensive lineman Xavier Lawson-Kennedy could stay at Carter's apartment -- before they were allowed under NCAA rules to begin receiving room and board. Lawson--Kennedy confirms that he and Coxeff stayed at Carter's apartment.

DeForest says each of the allegations against him is untrue. Bell denies receiving money from DeForest. In a statement Porter, now the running backs coach at Texas, says, "I've been made aware of the accusations, and I'm disappointed because they are all absolutely not true. None of that ever happened."

Whether or not you think players should be paid for their work on NCAA teams (which I do), the NCAA's rules are rules and today's piece from SI alleges that 2 LSU football coaches were directly in violation of those rules in their former jobs. At the very least, LSU will need to run it's own investigation to clear it's own image of any thought that these activities followed Miles to LSU.