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Oklahoma State University

Burns Hargis: Oklahoma State University pleased to get to the truth

Posted: Friday, May 1, 2015 12:00 am | Updated: 9:57 am, Fri May 1, 2015.

Throughout the intense year-and-a-half examination of our football program at Oklahoma State University, generated by the series of Sports Illustrated articles, we were interested in one thing and one thing only: the truth.

While many claims made by Sports Illustrated in a series of articles in September 2013 seemed outlandish, we, nevertheless, took them seriously. We informed the NCAA and launched our own investigation.

We hired Chuck Smrt, former enforcement director for the NCAA, as our outside independent consultant. We instructed him to examine the claims, follow every lead to the end and we pledged unbridled cooperation. He worked closely with the NCAA enforcement staff to conduct an exhaustive review of our football program from top to bottom. The investigation put our football program under the microscope in a way few have ever been.

Investigators had full access to our records and personnel. The inquiry covered more than 10 years and included a review of more than 50,000 emails and documents, along with nearly 100 interviews of former and current coaches, student-athletes, administrators, staff members, alumni and donors.

That extensive review determined, and the NCAA announced, that the accusations in the articles were “fundamentally unfounded.” The chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions said there was “a lot of unsubstantiated stuff out there that was not found, and it was not for a lack of looking.” Sports Illustrated’s reporting was a disservice not only to OSU, but to college athletics and Sports Illustrated’s readers.

The review of our football program did reveal two unintentional violations — the misapplication of our drug testing policy in five instances and the misalignment of our Orange Pride support group. These violations resulted in the NCAA sanctions announced last week. The sanctions did not include any reduction of football scholarships or ban on postseason play, as some predicted.

OSU was transparent throughout the review, and we were very pleased that the NCAA acknowledged OSU’s exemplary cooperation by reporting that this investigation was “the model of the way the process should work.”

We appreciate the professionalism and thoroughness of the NCAA enforcement staff throughout this matter and the determined work of Chuck Smrt. We commend the NCAA Committee on Infractions for giving us a full and fair hearing and imposing appropriate sanctions.

I also commend the work of Mike Holder, OSU vice president of athletics, and Mike Gundy, head football coach, for creating a positive culture in our football program and building a consistently winning program the right way.

And, I appreciate the support and concern of our fans.

From day one, we worked to find the truth. We have done so. Now we move forward resolute to play by the rules and promote the welfare of our student-athletes.

Burns Hargis is president of Oklahoma State University.

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