SI Story: Former Cowboys Defend OSU's Program

Markelle Martin

Sports Illustrated is scheduled Tuesday to release part one of its series detailing ugly allegations against Oklahoma State's football program during the Cowboys rise to college football success. However, there are many former players and others involved within the program, including Markelle Martin and Richetti Jones, who are telling stories that don't include money, academic fraud and sex.

Of the players we have spoke with most agree that Oklahoma State, like many college athletic programs, has dealt with a drug problem. But that problem has been dramatically reduced under current head coach Mike Gundy.

The five-part series appears to give a writer of very low integrity in Thayer Evans along with a Pulitzer Prize winner in George Dohrmann dual credit as writers of the project. It is said to detail a program that gave illegal payments to players, allowed academic fraud to permeate including work done for athletes by tutors, and undeserved grades given by professors on campus, sex with recruits by recruiting hostesses, and the drug issues in the program.

The first part of the series is scheduled for release Tuesday morning. "Money" will detail a payment program to athletes and apparently will lay much of that program at the feet of former OSU associate head coach Joe DeForest.

DeForest denies paying players for anything other than doing work at his home. His former players are refuting that accusation.

"I think all the scandal and rumors about my positional coach Defo is crazy," former OSU and current Tennessee Titans safety Markelle Martin posted on Facebook.

"Paying players, bounty system, changing grades? I can speak for a 4-yr span and say, I have never been paid to play, I made do with my scholarship that I earned. We didn't need a bounty system, we're DBs its out job to hit, it will forever be a NoFlyZone, and if it flies, it dies. Plain in simple."

Former Oklahoma State defensive end Richetti Jones was in agreement with Martin, and hinted that if anybody was paid for big plays or big hits then he should have seen some of that cash.

"We went from having a defense that was horrible and nobody had anything good to say about us, and then we were like the New Orleans Saints and getting bounties?" said Jones. "That doesn't make any sense.

"Most people were criticizing our defense. It did not go on when I was there (from 2007 to 2011). I'm not trying to brag or toot my own horn, but if we were getting bounties then I feel that I deserved one because I put some guys down."

Part two of the series will release Wednesday on SI.com and it is titled, "Academics." It reportedly claims that athlete's classwork was being down by athletic department tutors and alleges that professors were giving grades for little or no academic work. This charge is being taken extremely serious by the University, which has a very strict grading system and policy.

"As for changing grades, we all know I was academically suspended and grinded my way back pushin 15+ hours in season, earning my degree, now they want to question all that hard work," replied Martin again on Facebook. "Hell yea I'm offended."

Part three is titled "Drugs," and Jones addressed that issue.

"The thing about it is, I'm going to put it out there, Oklahoma State's drug problem is no bigger than anybody's Division I program in the country, and I think it is better than most of them," said Jones, now living in Dallas and doing some media work.

"I know for a fact, I have friends that have played Division I football in the Big 12 and in other conferences in the country, this is the difference between Oklahoma State's drug policy and others. I know guys at other schools and they smoked marijuana and did drugs all the time and they were never tested. They would test the players that never used drugs.

"I know at Oklahoma State everybody got drug tested. It was always at the start of practice in August and then random throughout the year. Different guys got picked and it was never the same guys that were getting tested."

Jones may have been most adamant about the subject that Sports Illustrated will release in part four on Friday, "Sex," which details activities in recruiting involving the Orange Pride group that also serves as recruiting hostesses and recruits.

The magazine and website will apparently attempt to prove that sex did occur in an organized system that promoted it for recruiting purposes.

"I was the number one player recruiter at Oklahoma State when I was a player," said Jones. "I was unbeaten. Every recruit I hosted committed to Oklahoma State. I'm telling you none of that stuff ever went on.

"Orange Pride girls having sex or being prostituted out for players. There was nothing like that. You don't have to do that. Oklahoma State is one of the best college towns in America. We have fun at Oklahoma State, good clean fun. There was no need to use Orange Pride girls to get recruits at all."

Jones's major problem with the story is the players he believes were solicited for interviews by the publication. Sports Illustrated's writers reportedly used rosters from 1999 through 2010 to seek players that did not finish their eligibility at the school or in the football program.

Jones said that is a severely tainted sample group for a look at Oklahoma State football.

"Just from the few speculations that are out there and the guys that this is coming from I feel like it is not going to stick," explained Jones. "They are talking to guys that were kicked off the team for either drugs, alcohol, or academics. Those are guys that would never have anything good to say about OSU. Why would they?

"Coach Gundy didn't kick anybody off the team deliberately. He let these guys hang themselves. They are the reason they are out of the program, and not coach Gundy or any other coach having it out for them. They need to man up and take accountability for themselves. They are inconsequential to Oklahoma State and OSU football."

Sounds like Richetti Jones and Markelle Martin and a lot of other former Oklahoma State players have a different story to tell. Both sides are going to tell their story but there is no doubt the folks at Sports Illustrated have a bigger platform.

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