Magazine report critical of WVU assistant DeForest

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The first installment in Sports Illustrated's five-part report on the Oklahoma State football program came out Tuesday and it was critical of West Virginia associate head coach Joe DeForest.

The SI report, a 10-month investigative project into the Cowboys rise from a middling college program into a national and Big 12 powerhouse, states that DeForest led a bonus program at Oklahoma State that existed as recently as 2011.

DeForest, now in his second season at West Virginia, was with the Cowboys from 2001 to 2011.

Sports Illustrated senior writers George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans interviewed more than 60 former Cowboy players and compiled a report that paints a black eye on the reputations of DeForest and of the Oklahoma State program.

Cash payments went to Cowboy players in three ways from 2001 to at least 2011, according to the report, "a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs."

DeForest had a hand in each channel, according to the report.

Defensive tackle Brad Girtman (2003-04) told the magazine that DeForest would go from group to group after games and discuss with players how they had performed. Rates would vary -- a quarterback hurry was worth $50, a tackle between $75 and $100 and a sack anywhere from $200 to $250.

"Your stats definitely dictated how much you were getting," Girtman told the reporters.

Linebacker Rodrick Johnson (2004-07) told the magazine that big plays on special teams could bring in a cash offering of $100 to $500.

DeForest denied pay-for-play claims.

"I have never paid a player for on-field performance," DeForest told Sports Illustrated. "I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity."

When Girtman verbally committed to Oklahoma State in January 2003, he said DeForest handed him a list of boosters and their telephone numbers. He pointed to one name.

"If you need anything, call this guy," Girtman recalled DeForest saying.

Girtman arrived on campus six months later and said DeForest handed him a debit card that was loaded with $5,000 and it was periodically refilled. Cornerback Ricky Coxeff (2003-04) told the magazine he recalled waiting outside DeForest's home as teammates walked inside the home and returned with cash in hand.

DeForest's home was also a central point in the apparent bogus jobs scam.

Running back Seymore Shaw (2002-04) told Sports Illustrated he accompanied cornerback Darrent Williams to DeForest's home multiple times and saw DeForest pay Williams for jobs he didn't do.

DeForest told the magazine he paid players for work done at his home, but always "paid them fair market value based on services rendered." As SI notes, the compliance office at Oklahoma State has no record of clearing a player to work for DeForest.

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said Saturday that West Virginia has launched an internal investigation. The program will not comment on the allegations until the investigation is through.

DeForest came on board as associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator at West Virginia on Jan. 14, 2012, inking a three-year contract at $500,000 per year to keep him in Morgantown through Jan. 30, 2015.

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

wvusports


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