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SI Accuses Miles of Being Lax on Academics

Part 2 of the series is out today.

Thearon W. Henderson

Despite people from Part 1 trying to damage the credibility of the report, SI is continuing with its series on Oklahoma State. Today's installment involves allegations of academic malfeasance.

When it comes to Les Miles, there are two big things of note:

Terry Henley, an academic adviser for football since 2000, denies the players' allegations that he scheduled them in easy classes and steered them to majors, but concedes that academics weren't a priority for Miles. "There was never pressure [to cheat], but Miles was like most coaches who want to be somewhere else," said Henley. "They're going to do what they need to do for two or three years, and they're not going to have to deal with whatever the fallout is. So, no, he didn't promote academics." ...

Carter, Cole, Mickens, defensive tackle Larry Brown (2005 and '06), offensive lineman Jonathan Cruz (2002), linebacker LeRon Furr (2009 to '10), defensive tackle Brad Girtman (2003 and '04), safety Chris Massey (1999 to 2002) defensive end T.J. Minor (2005 and '06), linebacker Marcus Richardson (2007), running back Herschel Sims (2011), wide receiver Artrell Woods (2006 to '08) and defensive back Thomas Wright (2002 to '04) told SI that they had work done for them and/or that they received other improper academic assistance.

The first paragraph paints Miles as a career climber who didn't care what happened in Stillwater because he planned to be out of there in short order. If accurate, that could certainly lead to a situation in the second paragraph where at best Miles was willfully ignorant of what was going on with his program's tutors.

Most of the rest of the allegations against OSU include steering players to easy classes and easy majors, which is something that really does go on everywhere. If you are able to find a roster for a college program that lists majors, you'll pretty much always see sociology, kinesiology, "general studies", or something like that sticking out as the runaway No. 1 major among players. The rather cynical attitude of Henley while he describes what he does for players is kind of jarring, though.

As for the charge that tutors did work or otherwise provided improper help, it sounds a lot like the FSU academic scandal from a few years back. I know that there is a lot of pressure on tutors to help keep athletes eligible. I had friends at UF who tutored athletes, and they've said the athletes tried to goad them into giving too much help at times. They said they didn't give that extra help and no pressure to do so came from the athletic association, for the record.

FSU vacated a boatload of wins across many programs and lost a few scholarships from its academic scandal. It remains to be seen, obviously, what will happen to Oklahoma State should any of this be proven. There is an NCAA statute of limitations for violations that extends only four years back of the start of an investigation, but there is an exception to it for "a pattern of willful violations… which began before the four-year period" (see 32.6.3).

I can't remember a specific time the NCAA has chosen to apply an exception to the statute of limitations, though I am not an encyclopedia of violations. As long as the exception exists, we can't say that none of this will blow back on Miles. Given the way major investigations have worked at places like USC, UNC, and Miami though, we're years from knowing any kind of conclusion should the NCAA open up a case here.