A year-long investigation by Sports Illustrated is calling into question the college football program at Oklahoma State University, with allegations of widespread attempts to skirt National Collegiate Athletic Association rules to advance the team.
In the first installment of the expose titled "The Dirty Game," which was released today, the magazine claims that coaches and boosters paid certain players for good performances on the field, and that some players were given better grades to maintain eligibility. Claims are also made in the article that the school's policy for drug use was inconsistently applied.
"You have a successful program that got good very fast, but there is an underbelly to that," Jon Wertheim, executive editor at Sports Illustrated, told ABC News.
Sports Illustrated says it interviewed 64 former players, along with an unnamed former assistant coach, who reportedly said: "I knew this day was coming, and today is that day. It was a matter of time."
"Different players probably have different motivations, but overall, I think there was a real collective sense that the system had used them," Wertheim said.
Sports Illustrated says the majority of the alleged incidents happened between 2001 and 2007. Some former coaches and players who are named in the article are denying the allegations.
Meanwhile, Burns Hargis, the school's president, says the university doesn't condone or tolerate improper behavior, and will "investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action."
Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder also said that they are now seeking the truth. "Our goal is to separate fact from fiction and then we can start dealing with it," he said. Holder was the golf coach at the school for decades before taking over as AD in 2005.
Wertheim told ABC News that it's likely that it's not just Oklahoma State that is involved in such attempts to boost the football program.
"Hopefully [the article] gives people a portrait of what big time college sports can be," he said. "You would be naïve to think similar scenarios aren't playing out elsewhere."