MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The first installment of Sports Illustrated’s investigative series torching the culture of Oklahoma State’s football program was released Tuesday and, as was forewarned, it characterizes Joe DeForest as the man of who passed cash to players or pointed them toward boosters with deeper pockets.

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WVU special teams coach Joe DeForest is facing allegations he ran a payment incentive program at Oklahoma State.

Two crucial questions are facing DeForest’s current employer:

1. Are the allegations from his OSU days valid?

2. And if so, have any of these practices continued in Morgantown?

Obviously, if No. 2 is true, expect DeForest to be removed from the staff and the WVU compliance folks to begin eating dinner at the office. And if either question ends with “yes,” then West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen must begin the uncomfortable task of proving plausible deniability; after all, he worked with DeForest for a season in Stillwater and vouched for him becoming the highest-paid assistant at West Virginia.

Read the first installment of SI’s series here.

Before sampling SI’s allegations—all of which were brought forth by former Oklahoma State players, and refuted by some as well—here was DeForest’s response:

“I have never paid a player for on-field performance. I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity.”

The thing needed to lend credibility to such pieces is finding multiple ex-players to provide details regarding how the payments occurred. What’s more, these players can’t solely be ax grinders who were chased off from the program. While SI’s 10-month investigation turned up numerous sources, many had grounds for disgruntlement. Players such as Brad Girtman, who played defensive tackle from 2003-04 before being dismissed:

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 (Darrent) Williams and (Tatum) Bell visited DeForest at his home and then returned with cash.

SI’s first installment also alleges players were overpaid for jobs, or in some cases, work that wasn’t performed at all. Former running back Seymore Shaw (2002 to ’04) lends to these charges, though his OSU experience was checkered:
Shaw says he accompanied Williams to DeForest’s home on a few occasions and witnessed DeForest giving Williams money for jobs he didn’t do. “We’d go over to the house, and [Williams] would fake like he’s starting up a lawn mower … so people could see him,” Shaw says. “[Then he’d] cut it off. [He’d] start up a Weed Eater. Cut it off. [For that he’d get] $400, $500, $600.”

It must be emphasized that Mike Gundy suspended Shaw in June 2005 after the player was charged with first-degree burglary and larceny and misdemeanor counts of domestic abuse. Shaw subsequently transferred to Division II Central Oklahoma. At least three other players sourced by SI were booted off the team as well, so absorb their accusations in full context.

Two players who never encountered disciplinary trouble at OSU spoke of an incentive-based program that SI claims DeForest managed:

Linebacker-defensive end Rodrick Johnson (2004 to ’07) told SI it was openly discussed among teammates that DeForest set rewards of between $100 to $500 for a big play on special teams. Cornerback-wide receiver Chris Wright (2001 to ’03) says he saw DeForest hand stacks of bills to certain players. “It depends on who the player was, how many yards they ran for, how many catches they made, how many touchdowns they scored, how many tackles,” says Wright, who says he did not take money. “It all depends on performance.”

DeForest told SI he compensated players who worked at his home based upon “fair market value based on services rendered.” However, OSU told the magazine it does not have a record of clearing a player to work for the assistant. Hard to believe DeForest deemed this a wise idea, even though it doesn’t appear to run afoul of NCAA rules.

Finally, some ex-players are voicing their disregard for the Sports Illustrated report, and The Oklahoman compiled this tweet-thread of outrage. It’s worth a look.

Hear Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman newspaper assess the fallout:

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  • Big Bubba

    Rich, on second thought, maybe I was too harsh. If violating NCAA rules seems ok to you, them maybe you need to reevaluate your sense or right and wrong. It is not "sour grapes" it is pathetic.

  • Big Bubba

    Rich, If you would change your underwear more than once a month your wouldn't smell anything.

  • Rich

    This smell like sour grapes.

  • Nick Cervantes

    Did anyone mention Les MIles? If this happened, the head coach knew!

  • Big Bubba

    Where were all these perks when I played football. To say that things have changed is an understatement. All I got was a good chewing out by the coach if I wasn't playing hard enough. I also got the pleasure of working my tail off just to be able to start in a game. If I made a good play, a slap on the backside was my reward. Maybe I was born too early. If I played college football today I might be driving a BMW.

  • Derek Farley

    Dana backed this guy up when he was the worst defensive coordinator in college football history, moved him to special teams and his punt returner grows butter fingers. There is something suspiciously odd about how this guy was brought here and is kept here. The only way this gets fixed is if Oliver gets pissed.

  • cutty77

    Please Alan WVU is doing this as fast as it should be done. Slow Down on The Witch Hunt on WVU. WVU owes you or WVRC nothing any sooner than themselves. Let me give some examples. ESPN thought they had Bernie Fine. ESPN thought they had Johnny Football too. You Guys The Media don't run this Country,you try to Ruin This Country. Sorry,but I'm tired of Tabloid Reporting all The Time. Find something Positive to say. Like Your Mother said,if you can't say something nice about something or somebody don't say anything at all. I"m sure you had a Wonderful Mother and Father.

  • Phil M.

    Crashing Down must have an inside source ?

    No he's just full of crap. Luck is not going anywhere. Plus do you think that came up in his job interview. Oh and by the way Dana did you know of players being paid to play, their grades being falsified and sex for recruits at Ok State while you were there ?

    Seriously, the only thing that could come out of this in a bad way for WVU is if Dana did know about what DeForest was doing and brought him in anyway and I doubt he thought he was that good to risk his reputation on.

    Plus this crap about I bet they wish they had invited Louisville. They are on the same roll in football we were on. Coming off of a BCS bowl win and ranked high the next year. Lets wait and see how they do when they quit playing Conference USA and play a real schedule. Plus count the wins. West Virginia is one of the winningest programs in college football with well over 700 wins. Where is Louisville's tradition and win total. Oh that's right it just started in the last 7 years.

  • Crashing Down

    The second series of the story came out yesterday and Joe DeForrest was front and center in the story again.
    When the NCAA gets through with WVU, Oliver Luck and Dana Holgorsen, Luck and Holgorsen will be lucky to have jobs at WVU.
    Yes, this is why "The Cleaner" was brought to Morgantown. To insulate Luck and Holgorsen from this growing scandal.
    DeForrest's mis-deeds were going on at WVU. And Holgorsen approved of, or condoned the activities.
    I would bet the Big-12 is seriously regretting inviting WVU in to the fold instead of Louisville now.

    • Bryan

      Another name to add to look for on the bandwagon when the current staff gets things turned around. Can't figure out what people want but I feel the staff we have now are headed in the right direction and will continue to improve as a staff as the season goes on.

  • TwinTowers

    Run DeForrest, run. The NCAA and SI are right on your heels.

    • Kevin


  • Phil M.

    There is no doubt that Joe DeForest has to go and I feel they will suspend him with pay until the investigation is concluded.

    There are probably no issues at WVU and this will take care of our over paid Special treams Coach.

    As to what Dana knew, as long as it has not happened since he has been at WVU then no foul, no harm. However, I guess one could question his choice of DeForest if he did have an idea that this had happened in the past. Keep in mind Dana was not at OK State that long.

  • zerotolerance

    I've said it before and I will say it again.........When Ollie and Horse Woman are gone, WVU Athletics will be in shambles.

  • Buckeye Mountaineer

    DeForest deserves due process. But guilty or not it may get him fired. Ever since Holgs came to town it's been a circus. Has to stop whether Holgs is or will be good coach or not. Luck deserves
    heat for bringing the circus to town.

    • Bryan

      Some people need to get real, a circus really? New conference with better competition, better players with more depth, more revenue and better facilities. People need to relax and worry about only those things they can control like showing support and rooting on the mountaineers. WVU is heading in the right direction period.

  • Harpers Ferry

    This happens at EVERY FBS school in the country (yes, even here at WVU), with the exception of three. Which schools are those? Army, Navy, and Air Force. So before you stand on your green and white soapbox or your blue and gold soapbox, just remember that there's NOTHING amateur about major college football.

  • Nick

    Maybe we won't have to pay him the entire contract because of a legal clause in it.