STILLWATER, Okla. – The National Collegiate Athletic Association Friday placed Oklahoma State University’s football program on probation for one year and fined the school for violating drug testing and recruitment policies.
OSU did not follow the school’s rules on ineligibility for five players who tested positive for banned substances from 2008 to 2012, said the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
The committee said it also determined the football program’s all-female Orange Pride student group engaged in impermissible hosting activities during visits by player prospects to the campus.
The year-long probation ends April 23 of 2016. OSU will pay self-imposed fines totaling $8,500 and suspend the Orange Pride group for four years. Restrictions were also placed on the number of recruit visits to the campus over the next two academic years.
Significantly, the football team will remain eligible for post-season bowl play and the school will not lose any football scholarships – penalties often associated with serious NCAA rules infractions that result in probation.
The NCAA review of the football program was triggered by Sports Illustrated’s 2013 series claiming OSU operated a football factory dating to 2001 that included paying players, overlooking drug use, allowing coaches to take tests for players, plying prospects with sex and other significant conduct infractions.
The NCAA and OSU investigations determined earlier that most of those allegations were unfounded. Sports Illustrated, however, stood by its reports, which were based on interviews with former players.
The NCAA said its review of the football program showed there was no deliberate attempt to violate the association’s rules, even in the case of the drug testing and recruit hosting infractions.
The infractions committee said it reviewed more than 50,000 emails and other documents, and conducted close to 90 interviews of current and former players, coaches, staffers and boosters.
University President Burns Hargis said the school accepted the NCAA probation for what he characterized as “two foindings that did not warrant significant penalities.” He said OSU was committed to getting at the truth of the more serious Sports Illustrated allegations “from the moment” they were published in September of 2013 under the series title, “The Dirty Game.”
Mike Holder, OSU vice president of athletics, said the school is “pleased to bring closure to this matter and provide certainty to our football program.”
It is the second time in 26 years that the Oklahoma State football program has been placed on probation by the NCAA. In 1989, it banned the team from bowl and television appearances for four years for recruiting violations.