Oklahoma State Paid Players According to S.I.

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Oklahoma State fans may be in denial — I've already seen status updates claiming all reports are a lie.

Sports Illustrated released a ground-breaking and mind-exploding article Tuesday that puts the Cowboys' program in the same likes as The "U." Paying players? Enticing recruits with sex? It gets heavy, folks. If the reports are honest, OSU fans will have a tough pill to swallow.

[Via ESPN]

At least eight former Oklahoma State football players say they received cash payments from people associated with the Cowboys program starting in the Les Miles era and identified another 29 players as having also taken money, Sports Illustrated revealed Tuesday in the first of a five-part investigative series on the football program.

Some players received $2,000 annually and others around $10,000, multiple players told SI, with a few stars allegedly receiving $25,000 or more.

Among the players SI identified as having taken money included former quarterback Josh Fields, running back Tatum Bell and cornerback Darrent Williams, who was shot to death in 2007 while a member of the Denver Broncos. Fields, Bell and others denied receiving illicit payments, but multiple players were on the record as saying they received money and saw other players getting payments….

Subsequent installments of the investigative piece allege that there also was widespread academic misconduct involving the football program, that the program tolerated recreational drug use and that members of a hostess program had sex with recruits.

The first part of the series concentrated on financial irregularities in the football program. SI reported that payments to players, which stretched from 2001 to at least '11 under head coaches Miles and Gundy, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs — including work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium — that involved at least one assistant coach and several boosters.

Miles, now the coach at LSU, was instrumental in creating a "hospitable" environment for boosters, according to Sports Illustrated.

You can read the article on the  S.I. website. But again, this is only part-one. If this article is only the preface for things to come, this might just be the tipping point college football needs for something to change. The number of major programs sanctioned in recent years is too long to count. Just off the top of my head: Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, USC, Oregon, Miami, North Carolina….have all been penalized, investigated, bowl banned, etc.  Until there is dramatic change in the way the NCAA runs college football, there will continue to be stories like the alleged debacle at Oklahoma State.

If I'm in OSU fan, I'm worried. Very worried. If I'm a college football fan, I'm not surprised.

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to the CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.