MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia said Wednesday it found no misconduct or violations of NCAA rules with the Mountaineers football program involving an assistant football coach who was identified by Sports Illustrated as having provided improper payments to players while he worked at Oklahoma State.
Last month Sports Illustrated reported Joe DeForest paid cash bonuses to Oklahoma State players of up to $500 for performance. DeForest spent a decade with the Cowboys before being hired at West Virginia in 2012.
While not identifying DeForest by name Wednesday, West Virginia said its investigation found no violations or misconduct at WVU.
"WVU is unable to comment on the veracity of the media allegations levied against the assistant coach while employed at another institution, and defers to that institution, as well as appropriate NCAA infractions personnel, to complete a review and assessment of those allegations," the statement said.
Sports Illustrated's five-part series included interviews with more than 60 former players who played for Oklahoma State from 2001-10.
Oklahoma State has appointed former NCAA enforcement officer Charles E. Smrt to handle an independent review of the alleged violations.
The NCAA has declined comment. NCAA rules bar providing cash or other benefits based on athletic performance.
SI reported that eight former Cowboys told the magazine they had received cash payments and 29 others were named by teammates as having also taken money. Former defensive tackle Brad Girtman said he saw some star players get "monster payments," while he once received $500 from a member of the football staff.
Girtman said the rates were told to him by DeForest, who ran special teams and the secondary under Les Miles and then was an associate head coach under Mike Gundy, the current head coach, from 2005-11.
Girtman also said he recalled DeForest handing him a debit card in 2003 with $5,000 on it and that it was periodically refilled. DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, the running backs coach from 2002-04, also made payments directly to players, SI reported.
Among other allegations in the Sports Illustrated series were that boosters and assistant coaches provided sham jobs for which players were paid, tutors and school personnel completed school work for players, and some members of a hostess program used by the football coaching staff had sex with recruits.