‘Barely Illustrated’: OK State Student Paper Questions Sports Illustrated Football Report

If you’re a sports fan or have any interest at all in sex, drugs, money, academics or fallouts, you have most likely crossed paths this past week with the Sports Illustrated investigative takedown of Oklahoma State University’s football program.

Using the school as a not-so-subtle metaphor for wider NCAA abuses, the five-part report– still being rolled out– details a litany of alleged legal, organizational and moral violations within the program after the turn of the century.

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Among those enmeshed within a slightly awkward situation due to the SI feature: The Daily O’Collegian, OK State’s student newspaper.  The big-picture journalistic and ethical question: How do you properly report on a gigantic, temporarily nonstop takedown of your uni’s bread-and-butter from an outside trusted news source?

It’s the talk of the sports, media and higher ed universes, so you can’t ignore it. But it’s not your own reporting and, vaunted outlet or not, blind trust and simple parroting seem the wrong moves as well.

The paper has been dutifully offering basic recaps of each SI segment as they premiere. But it has coupled those summaries with a growing skepticism, capped by the kick-butt cover of the O’Colly’s weekend edition. As the bold two-word header proclaims: “Barely Illustrated.”

2The college sports news site Gamedayr confirms, “Obviously, the publication is not impressed with Sports Illustrated’s scathing report on how the Cowboys football program was run during the 2000s. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy only needed to make a cursory search of easily available student transcripts to poke holes in SI’s report. Several former OK State stars have come out and vehemently denied most of the hardest-hitting facts in the article, and so has former coach and current head man at LSU, Les Miles. Was the entire 10-month investigation actually just Barely Illustrated? The O’Colly thinks yes.”

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