Records: Bryant played during probe
OKLAHOMA CITY -- All-America receiver Dez Bryant played in Oklahoma State's first three games of the season while compliance officials were investigating an apparent meeting with former NFL players Deion Sanders and Omar Stoutmire that he later lied about to the NCAA.
Documents released by the university Thursday in response to an open records request from The Associated Press show OSU suggested to the NCAA that it should interview Sanders and Stoutmire because they were "purported to work out" with Bryant.
The documents also show questions were raised about Bryant's account of events -- before the start of the season. That calls into question whether his participation in the first three games could cause Oklahoma State to forfeit, if the NCAA rules he should have been ineligible from the start.
In an Aug. 26 e-mail, associate athletic director for compliance Scott Williams mentions that Oklahoma State's season opener was approaching -- at that point 10 days away -- and the school would need to make "a determination on Dez's playing status."
Five days later, still before a season-opening win against Georgia, Marcus M. Wilson, the NCAA's assistant director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities, asks Williams about Bryant: "Why does his story keep changing?"
Oklahoma State ruled Bryant ineligible Wednesday because he "failed to openly disclose to the NCAA the full details of his interaction with a former NFL player not affiliated with OSU."
The school has said it already has begun the process of asking the NCAA to reinstate Bryant, and released documents show Bryant is tentatively scheduled for a follow-up interview with the NCAA on Tuesday in Indianapolis.
In that Aug. 26 e-mail, Williams informed Wilson that the NCAA should contact former NFL players Sanders and Stoutmire, along with former Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree and Bryant's girlfriend, if it was taking over the investigation. The e-mail mentions a facility where "Dez, Deion and Omar were purported to work out."
Sanders served as an adviser for Crabtree, who has the same agent that represented Sanders, setting up the former Texas Tech receiver's announcement in January that he would turn pro and commenting on his behalf during a prolonged holdout.
Sanders told The New York Times that he met with Bryant over the summer at a Texas athletics center and had him over to his house for dinner, but did not work out at the facility named Fieldhouse USA. Sanders said Bryant "panicked" and lied to the NCAA because he "thought it was a violation to come over to my house and it isn't."
Sanders declined an interview request from The Associated Press through NFL Network spokesman Dennis Johnson. Gary Oliver of Fieldhouse USA, whose name is listed in OSU's documents, did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages left by the AP on Thursday.
In determining what information the university could include in a news release announcing Bryant was ineligible, Williams sought advice from the NCAA.
"Would it be possible to release information regarding an alleged association between the former NFL player and an active agent? Would it be permissible to release information regarding the alleged workouts?" Williams asked in an e-mail this week. "What parts of the investigation are we restricted from discussing?"
The NCAA's Wilson responded that specific details of the investigation should not be released.
The documents also show the university and the NCAA also had an inquiry into a cell phone that Bryant was using that did not belong to him, but determined he had not received an extra benefit.
If the NCAA finds Sanders provided Bryant with any extra benefits during their visit or was serving as an intermediary for an agent, Bryant's college career is finished.
A top NFL prospect, Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns and also had two punt returns for touchdowns last season. This season, Bryant leads the team with 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns.
The university released a statement from Bryant on Wednesday saying "I made a mistake by not being entirely truthful when meeting with the NCAA."
Willie Baker, Bryant's attorney, said in an e-mail that "NCAA rules restrict our ability to talk about this due to the ongoing investigation. Accordingly neither Dez or I will have any further comments at this time."
The 15th-ranked Cowboys (3-1) play at Texas A&M (3-1) on Saturday in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press