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Opinion

September 19, 2013

Okla. State report flawed, still revealing

McALESTER — Sports Illustrated published the fifth final part of its exposé of the football program at Oklahoma State University earlier this week. With the entire story now available online, it can finally be analyzed for both its strengths and weaknesses.

Local sports radio personalities repeatedly criticized SI writers George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans as “OSU haters” simply out to get the program. So before looking at their work, a brief personal statement so as to hopefully avoid the same criticism:

Because I went to a Division III school, my college football team of choice is the Wisconsin Badgers, as both my parents are Wisconsin alumni. I don’t care for OSU head coach Mike Gundy because of how he sometimes treats female journalists — a 2008 press conference in which he called Oklahoman sports writer Jenni Carlson “garbage” and loudly criticized her; a 2012 press conference in which he yelled at Tulsa World reporter Kelly Hines for calling a player’s father — but that has never led me to actively root against OSU.

I consider myself neither an Oklahoma Sooners nor Oklahoma State Cowboys fan. Having said that, there are serious flaws in SI’s story, most notably its one-sided nature.

Dohrmann and Evans relied far too heavily on interviews from players. They not once got a current or former coach to admit to any of the accusations leveled against the school, which can be summarized as under-the-table payments, overly lenient and inconsistent drug and academic policies, and hostesses sleeping with potential recruits.

Yes, the “Money” section of the story contains one quote from a booster about questionable job opportunities offered to players. But considering how serious these allegations are, this story needed far more than just one-sided hearsay.

The article also doesn’t really discuss the players’ personal histories until the fifth section, called “The Fallout,” and even then it’s only five or six players out of the 64 interviewed. How and why former players left Oklahoma State could easily color their testimony, especially considering none of the players mentioned in the final section went on to live happily ever after.

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