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September 13, 2013

The Sex?

Part four of the Sports Illustrated expose on Oklahoma State's rise to football fortune was released this morning after a considerable delay. In The Sex, SI writers George Dohrmann, Thayer Evans and Melissa Segura implied part of the program's success relied on recruits having sex while on recruiting visits. The piece took a fairly nebulous aim at the Orange Pride, a co-ed group that officially serves as hostesses for recruiting visits - both on game day unofficial visits for OSU home games and on individual recruits' official visits to Stillwater.

Two specific instances were given where Orange Pride members allegedly had sexual relations with a recruit while on a visit. Neither example included the women's names, or any comment from them. Both instances occurred prior to 2004. That's when NCAA-mandated policy changes were instituted at member schools following a recruit-sex scandal at Colorado. It also pre-date the Mike Gundy era at OSU.

After spending eight seasons as the head coach of the dominant junior college football program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Dale Patterson left the JUCO ranks to take a position as the Assistant Director of Football Operations at Oklahoma State. One of his duties was to serve as OSU the liaison between the football program and the Orange Pride support group. He held that position until returning to NEO as its interim head coach in May of 2011. He is currently NEO's athletic director, but vividly recalls his first year in Division I football.

"I came on in 2004, right when the new requirements came down with the Colorado deal and we had to revise some of the by-laws of Orange Pride," Patterson said." We revised a lot of things. It wasn't that we had been having bad things happen at OSU, but because we needed to be in compliance with the new NCAA guidelines."

Patterson said that in his time at OSU, part of Orange Pride orientation included going over the rules of the organization - which included the fact that intimacy with recruits was expressly against the groups rules, and NCAA by-laws.

The Sex also alleged that both Gundy and former OSU head coach Les Miles had taken the "unusual" step of personally interviewing prospective Orange Pride members. Cassie Sturgeon (née Wheeler) was a member of Orange Pride from 2002 to the end of the 2004. She was interviewed for the piece by Segura.

"Yes, I did sit down with (Miles) and talk one-on-one. I'm not really sure you'd call it an interview," Sturgeon said. "I don't remember exactly what we talked about, but I think it was just what his expectations were for each woman in Orange Pride.

"The only thing I really remember was that we represented the University and we should act classy at all times. He also asked why I wanted to be a part of Orange Pride."

Sturgeon was certain that at no time did Miles say - or even imply - anything that made her feel his expectations had to do with anything improper.

Kelly Yust (née Semore), was also interviewed by Segura and was in Orange Pride in 2005, Gundy's first season. Asked if she was interviewed by or had any direct contact with Gundy, Yust's answer was simply "absolutely not!"

The Sex edition of "The Dirty Game" series did note that in interviews with 30 former players and 14 former Orange Pride members, none had any "direct knowledge of a coach or athletic department staff member instructing a hostess to have sex with a recruit."

The thrust of the article was that a small subset of Orange Pride girls frequently spent time with recruits outside of their normal hostess duties. A former Orange Pride member told OState Illustrated that she was unaware of any members intentionally spending time with recruits outside of their official duties, but noted that on occasion unintentional contact could occur in the relatively small college town.

"There we're times that we would run into football players that had recruits with them at a party because there were very few choices for places to go in Stillwater," said Traci Bussey, a member in 2005. "But, even then there wasn't anything inappropriate that happened to my knowledge."

Bussey also noted that the incidental contact would typically occur at house parties, because many of the Orange Pride members were under 21 and unable to go bars. She was asked, but declined to interview with Sports Illustrated.

Much like yesterday's The Drugs and OSU's drug policy, the most likely impact in the near term for the school is an internal review of the Orange Pride's policy and procedures. In fact, today's story says that OSU athletic director Mike Holder has indicated that a review of the group "might be warranted."

As for NCAA concerns, the only two allegations that specifically say a recruit had sex while on a visit both occurred 10 years or more ago. One specifies neither the recruit's name, nor the names of the two girls he supposedly had sex with. In the other, the ex-player (Thomas Wright) was named, but he claimed to never have known the woman's name. There is nothing whatsoever for the NCAA to latch on to in that, if they even cared to look into decade-old alleged events.


Larry Brown says he did talk to Sports Illustrated, but did not say the lines attributed to him in parts two and three. Brown was not quoted in the story on academics, but was listed among players who "had work done for them and/or that they received other improper academic assistance."

In Thursday's The Drugs piece, Brown was tied to one of the more explosive allegations - rampant cocaine use around the team. It said:

Larry Brown, a defensive tackle in 2005 and '06, says that the first time he saw teammates do cocaine was in a dorm during his first year in Stillwater. "It happened a lot of times," Brown says of his teammates' cocaine use.

**Note - the original article said Brown said it happened during his freshman year, which couldn't possibly have been in Stillwater as he was a JUCO transfer. SI edited the article to read as noted above.

"The comments are all false," Brown said on Friday. "All. I had the interview and none of the statements were mentioned. Again I was a transfer and I did my own work. All of it." Asked specifically, "so you never said anything about cocaine?" Brown's answer was a simple "nope." Andre Sexton told me he didn't know Brown well since they only spent one year at OSU at the same time, but that he recalls Brown doing work in the academic center "a lot."

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