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.

MetroNews file photo

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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Comments

  • Big Larry

    The Allegations are damaging both to Joe DeForest and WVU. Even if they are untrue, the damage has already been done. People will always wonder about Joe DeForest and will always question his integrity from now on. He is pretty much done as a college football coach.

    Someone wants rid of him and it appears they will succeed.

    Either way, the responsibility falls back on Dana "The Man in Black" Holgorsen for bringing him here in the first place. It has thus proven to be a monumental one million dollar mistake after two years. (15 games)

    The Buck is then passed on to Oliver For Hiring Dana "The Man in Black" Holgorsen.

    This is not going to go away...it will only continue to get worse!

    Anyway, that is just my opinion and I think everyone is entitled to hear it...

    • Charleston,WV

      "The Allegations are damaging both to Joe DeForest and WVU. Even if they are untrue, the damage has already been done". _ Big Larry
      Response: Couldn't we draw the same conclusion to your post(s) regarding WVU?

    • WV07

      @Larry....once again, the saying goes......you are entitled to have an opinion.....nobody is entitled to hear someones opinion. You really are a rocket scientist.

  • Mike

    Big E
    I thought the same thing. If he is paying for big plays WVU has nothing to worry about because under his guidance on D or special teams I have yet to see any big plays. If anything the kids are paying him so they don't get cut.. Just saying.

  • Shawn

    Oh dont worry...the way our fans are we will lose every head coach we get. Our fans can be ignorant and impatient and it will run a coach out every time.

    I do however agree that DeForest needs to go no matter what. Just his name being brought up would be enough for me to cut him loose. I just hope he hasn't been doing the same things at WVU. If he has then you will see Holgs, Dawson, & DeForest all get fired.

    The one good thing is Holgs was only there 1 year during all the shenanigans. But i guess one year can do a lot.

  • tony

    needs to go.
    the funny thing is that if dana is not tied to this and it does extend to gundy, then we could end up losing dana to osu. now that would be real irony...

    • Mark

      Why would OSU want Dana? Maybe as offensive coordinator I suppose.

  • Big E

    If Joe Deforest was paying players for big plays and good plays at OSU He certainly wasn't doing it at WVU because his defense did not make any plays last year and looks like special teams are a bit shakey at best now....... Just some food for thought.

    • wvrefugee

      Bump!! Maybe he should have paid our guys MORE MONEY because they sure didn't give the effort they gave this past weekend all year long!!

  • Joe Cool

    DePimp

  • Shawn

    Just suspend him for a half and this will all go away.

  • cutty77

    This story started back in 2001 under Les Miles. Its alot about nothing. Remember the Republicans thought they had Bill Clinton too. LOL

  • Iggs

    Innocent until proven guilty...but he still sucks as a coach...

    • Brian

      True Iggs - in both cases.
      I'd much rather just get back to gripping about the offense, and be proven wrong by November!!

  • Brian

    Wow...................just wow!
    The scary part is (if this thing blows-up) was/is the close affilation between Holgs & DeForest now, at OSU and even bofore.

    This sounds bad - and DON"T think the NCAA isn't just looking to make "examples" of a program OR TWO after their ineptitude and lack of credibility in cases like Ohio State, Miami, Auburn, Manziel, etc.

    I've gotten on Holgs, his growing pains, and his lack of offense this season - but I still want him as our coach.
    This thing could get ugly for the entire football program though.

    • J the C

      Unless I'm missing something, the NCAA isn't investigating this...yet.

  • Joe

    Allan and guys,

    Debit cards are issued by banks. I would think a query to the isduing bank named by the player should easily confirm the allegation if it is true.

    Also, I'd imagine the IRS would likely be interested in the lack of invoices and w-2's.

    • Susan

      Your idea about debit cards is a pretty good one, if they're real debit cards. It's so easy to buy a gift card thru visa, mastercard & all the others & they are re-loadable. No names required. I'm sure these were used (if any at all) because they've got to be much harder to track.

  • Alum

    Time will tell where everything shakes out. Allan's first point is of utmost importance, are the allegations valid?

    It's also interesting to note that one of the author's of the SI piece has a history of these kinds of stories, and the allegations don't seem to stick. A full investigation at OSU, WVU, and by the NCAA, if warranted, will shine light on the situation and time will tell if JD has (is) a problem or if this is another journalistic hit piece. Perhaps some of the athletes are distgruntled and it needs to be remembered that disgruntled people can come up with some fantastic stories and theories.

    One upside of these types of stories; we know that Lil' disgruntled Billy is alive and well in his mother's basement.

    • Ragweed

      Maybe we need an investigation at SI....

  • unclec

    Did not run the defence very well last year and special teams this year are hurting us. Well

    • JC

      I disagree with your off handed criticism of our special teams play. We have a very good punter and a good kicker. The coverage has improved by leaps and bounds, and they are actuallly hitting and tackeling the returners. A stupid mistake by a freshman rushing the punter is the only bad miscue that I can think of, except for a punt return man that needs to be replaced. Sometimes, those fumbling tendencies don't show up until game day.

  • William

    Looks like I can see A LOT of smoke, I think you will see some FIRE soon!
    WVU = NCAA I N V E S T I G A T I O N

    • Charleston,WV

      I detect something foul in the air, it must be another BS comment from William.
      William = Not a WVU Fan

      • Charleston,WV

        I'll reserve further judgment until all the facts come out.

    • Bobby M

      CLEANSER! THIS IS WHY THE CLEANSER WAS HERE! And I tried to tell EVERYONE that the Cleanser being here meant BAD NEWS! Everyone gave me a hard time for it! But guess what? Whos right NOW? Thats right!

      I just cant believe how I kept TRYING to tell everyone and nobody listens!

      • Brian

        I believe your chest beating is unwarranted, and you are making yourself look foolish. There is no evidence, and nobody other than you is claiming the Cleaner was hired to address the eforrest situation.

        At this point, I'd say it appears highly unlikely that eforrest is not guilty of the accusations against him, though, and I think we will have to let him go after this season, if not sooner.

        • Mac

          With the accusations against eForest you better bet your backside that the NCAA will be in town. They will HAVE to investigate eForest at WVU.

          This is a far reaching story as Les Miles was also implicated. LSU will be getting visitors soon.

          Top it off with reports that broke this morning of Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi State paying players... College football is a mess.

    • William

      This was Part 1 – titled ‘Money' – of a five-part series that will continue on the site tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., releasing a different section the next three days, followed by the finale next Tuesday. It is the cover story of the Sept. 16 magazine.

      Here's a synopsis, from SI, of the remaining four parts:

      *Part 2: Academics (Wednesday morning): Widespread academic misconduct, which included tutors and other OSU personnel completing coursework for players, and professors giving passing grades for little or no work, all in the interest of keeping top players eligible.



      *Part 3: Drugs (Thursday morning): OSU tolerated and at times enabled recreational drug use, primarily through a specious counseling program that allowed some players to continue to use drugs while avoiding penalties. The school's drug policy was selectively enforced, with some stars going unpunished despite repeated positive tests.



      *Part 4: Sex (Friday morning): OSU's hostess program, Orange Pride, figured so prominently in the recruitment of prospects that the group more than tripled in size under previous head coach Les Miles. Both Miles and Mike Gundy, then an assistant coach, took the unusual step of personally interviewing candidates. Multiple former players and Orange Pride members say that a small subset of the group had sex with recruits, a violation of NCAA rules.



      *Part 5: The Fallout (next Tuesday morning): SI finds that many players who were no longer useful to the football program were cast aside, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse and a few have attempted suicide.

      • Maxxajay

        @ William... With all this information that you have it looks like you have something from sports illustrated itself... Are you the writer at sports illustrated... Seems like you have more detail than anything that I have ever seen or read about any story... I suppose it's just a waiting thing.... I don't dispute Anything you are saying.. I just hope my favorite school,"WVU " and Coaches especially Dana is not involved... Either way I will always be true Mountaineer fan ...

      • WVAtty

        This was the ultimate cut n paste job. Congrats William for another idiotic thoughtless comment.

        • Mac

          Ah, but where there's smoke there's fire! And I believe the entire SI article will be pointing fingers at many of OSU coaches, players and University officials. Could it be that we've run out of LUCK? Did dear old Oliver hire the wrong coach and assistants? Could Dana have known about these situations? And who knows, could he have been in on this entire "pay to play" - "drugs for thugs" and "text-for sex" scenarios that SI is going to layout? By Saturday's kickoff, all four sections of the article will have unfolded and their might not be enough coaches and players for WV to field a team! "Hello, Oliver? Can you hear me now?"

    • William

      Hoppy has GREAT CHARACTER!!

      • William

        Huggins had something to do with this too. Hoppy = GREAT CHARACTER.

  • William

    Joe (Shake it up) Deforest must be great to play for, look at all the benefits you get! MONEY, GRADES, AND GIRLS! I BET MOUNTAINEER FANS ARE PROUD TO HAVE THIS GUY ON COACHING STAFF! Isn't it great to have men with GREAT CHARACTER as coaches at WVU.

    • Charleston,WV

      "I BET MOUNTAINEER FANS ARE PROUD TO HAVE THIS GUY ON COACHING STAFF"
      _William
      So by making this statement are you alluding that your not?

    • Mark

      Sounds like the Bob Pruet system at Marshall

    • JC

      Why does anyone bother to read this guy's comments. I read first, then saw his name and thought, "who cares".

    • JOEL

      have you ever met him?

      I have.

      maybe you should stop judging until all the facts are in.