SI Vault
Rick Telander
February 27, 1989
Oklahoma has paid the price for the anything-goes attitude that coach Barry Switzer has allowed to take root
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 27, 1989

You Reap What You Sow

Oklahoma has paid the price for the anything-goes attitude that coach Barry Switzer has allowed to take root

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

KTVY, an Oklahoma City TV station, aired an interview with the mother of the alleged victim. "We want to fight because I feel this will happen again and again and again," said the woman, who was shown only in silhouette. "[My daughter] thought she was safe because of who they were and where they were at.... She knew they were OU players, and she thought she would be safe with them."

According to one former resident of the athletic dorms, no woman is really safe in Bud Hall: "What happened was not an isolated kind of thing. The attitude is, We're Sooners. This is the way we party."

The former resident, who knew some of the players involved, says the players' intimidating manner is an acquired trait: "As freshmen, they're all excited and a bunch of neat guys. As the year progresses, they change. It's real subtle. They become more callous to discipline as they find they can get away with more. The older guys show them around, show them the attitude."

This was not the first time that Hall had been in trouble. On Nov. 11, 1987, the other Sooner players had voted to suspend him for then-undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Charges filed—and later dropped—with the university police alleged that he had been stealing from his teammates. Switzer remembers that Hall swiped a warmup suit, and several players claim that Hall took jewelry and some stereo equipment from them. Most of the Sooners assumed that Hall's separation from the team was permanent. He wouldn't be missed for the rest of the '87 season because Keith Jackson, a senior All-America, played tight end.

But by the start of practice in late August 1988, Jackson was gone to the pros and the two players slotted to replace him, Billy Dykes and Duncan Parham, were sidelined with injuries. "The tight end position—it's been devastated," Switzer told The Oklahoma Daily on Aug. 26. "Our seniors came to me last week.... They want to reinstate [Hall]. I told them they dismissed him; if they want him back, they can have him. Bernard Hall has to be activated for us to have a chance to have a good player, a winning player at that position."

The Sooners voted to welcome Hall back. A few days later, they lost him again—this time when he was ruled academically ineligible for the season. Until his arraignment on the rape charge. Hall was considered a likely starter in 1989.

"Barry's been known as a coach who's really changed lives and made them productive by giving second chances," says Duncan, who was one of Switzer's assistants from 1973 through '78. "Over the years, there have been plusses and some minuses. Obviously this one's a minus."

None of the three who were charged with rape will get another chance from Switzer. "I've made my decision," he says. "They won't play here again. And if they're found guilty in the courts, I want them behind bars; I want them caged. I have a 19-year-old daughter, and if somebody harmed her, I'd kill the bastard."

Though the shooting and the alleged rape hit Switzer hard, nothing has pained him more than Thompson's drug bust. "It destroyed me, it really destroyed me," says Switzer. "I had a real good relationship with Charles. I had talked to Charles about him being drug-free, him doing the right thing, because he was a quarterback, in the public eye. Now, I worry about Charles going the other way, going into that culture, those associations."

After receiving a tip during the weekend of Feb. 11-12, Switzer told Thompson on Monday that he was under investigation. However, the FBI, which reportedly photographed its alleged undercover transaction with Thompson, was hoping to break a much bigger case. It wasn't ready to arrest Thompson, but Switzer's warning forced the bureau's hand and brought an important operation to a premature end, although Norman police did arrest three other suspects, none of them Oklahoma athletes, in connection with the Thompson case.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8