McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Z_CNHI News Service

September 13, 2013

Ex-player backs off comments criticizing OSU

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Victor Johnson left the Oklahoma State University football team under on bad terms. He played just nine games im 2009 before being sidelined by a knee injury and then getting dropped from the team after failing a drug test.

Even so, Johnson is among those who now defends the Big 12 program as it comes under scrutiny for a range of allegations including players getting paid for on-field performance, academic fraud and drug use.

Johnson, now a senior at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, said he was misquoted in the five-part Sports Illustrated series describing the revival of OSU's football program from 2001 to 2011. He calls the report "bogus."

"I violated one of their rules - one of their team rules - so I had to leave," he said of his departure. "That was the end of it."

Launched Tuesday, Sports Illustrated has detailed illicit cash payments to OSU players, academic dishonesty including players receiving passing grades for classes they didn't attend and weak enforcement of drug policies. Friday's installment describes sexual encounters between would-be players and some members of a hostess group, "Orange Pride," meant to show recruits and their families around campus.

The report comes after a 10-month investigation that included interviews with 64 former OSU players - including Johnson. As the NCAA and OSU review the allegations, some of those players mentioned in the series - including Johnson - are publicly backing away from their comments or saying they were misquoted.

The series quotes Johnson as saying he probably could have stayed on the team - even after failing drug tests - had he not been injured. In an interview with the Tahlequah Daily Press, he denied saying that.

Johnson said he isn't afraid to admit his arrest on a complaint of obstructing an OSU police officer and a charge of marijuana possession. He said he told the Sports Illustrated reporter he failed a drug test, and, "That's why I left."

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