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

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Switzer says he learned of the investigation from "different sources" and called Thompson into his office. "He sat there, and I said, 'Charles, they've got you,' " says Switzer. "He was shattered. He told me the truth, the whole thing. The first thing I asked, Ts there anyone else involved?' That's the first thing that races through my mind. He said, 'Coach, I acted alone.' I got him on the phone, got him together with a lawyer. He went of his own volition and turned himself in."

The FBI briefly considered taking legal action against whomever Switzer's snitch might have been, but dropped the idea because neither Switzer nor his informer appeared to be trying to obstruct justice. Switzer isn't at all contrite. "I've been accused of ruining an investigation by doing this," he says. "If I'd let it go on, after what's happened to me, how would that have looked? When it all came out, and people found out I had known, how would that have looked? If we know this information, we have to protect ourselves."

What's more, Thompson spent part of last summer in a drug rehabilitation center, a fact that the university revealed after Thompson's arrest. And Thompson had had a previous brush with the law only weeks before he was scheduled to begin classes at Oklahoma. In August 1986 Thompson pleaded guilty in Tulsa to a charge of petty larceny and no contest to an assault-and-battery charge for stealing a pair of gloves and shoving a store clerk. He was ordered to perform community service and attend a counseling session for shoplifters.

Switzer and his players aren't the only ones in the Sooners' program who appear to be out of control. Four days before Oklahoma faced Clemson in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla., Sooner assistant Scott Hill, who had earlier been reprimanded by the NCAA for recruiting improprieties and who may not recruit off-campus in 1990, engaged in what Duncan calls "horseplay" at the posh Lake Nona Golf Club.

Hill ran up a $475 bar tab with other Oklahoma coaches and was involved in roughhousing that resulted in a shattered cherrywood chair and a damaged table. Hill later slammed bowl official Tony Martin into a car, bruising his cheek and chest. As of last week Oklahoma still had not reimbursed the Citrus Bowl for $583 in damages that the committee paid to the Lake Nona club.

Says Duncan, "Scott is going to send them an apology, and he's going to be responsible for seeing that payment occurs. There was damage done, and even though it was in fun, you pay for it."

Not to be outdone by their coaches, a number of players trashed their rooms at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando. Switzer's response was to upbraid the local press for reporting the hotel incident.

Switzer points out that after every malfeasance involving his players he calls a meeting and warns them to behave. Still, Sooners just can't seem to stay out of trouble. On Feb. 2 Anthony Duplisse, a graduate student at Oklahoma, swore out an assault-and-battery complaint against VanKeirsbilck. Duplisse alleged that the 6'2", 270-pound VanKeirsbilck had hit him from behind in a fight outside Brothers, an off-campus watering hole. Both VanKeirsbilck and the bar's owner, Keith Allen, maintain that Duplisse was drunk and belligerent (which Duplisse denies) and had been asked to leave. Allen says that Duplisse attacked him inside the bar and Sooner split end Carl Cabbiness on the sidewalk outside Brothers. "Mark came to my defense," says Allen, who ended up with a split lip and a broken left hand after, he says, being struck by Duplisse.

"Nine times out of 10 you've got to bite your lip and just walk away," says VanKeirsbilck. "But you see one of your friends get hit, and your instincts take over. The warnings never crossed my mind. The adrenaline starts flowing, and you don't think about what's going to happen tomorrow, what I'm going to read in the paper."

"Isolated incidents," says Switzer, over and over again, not just about the occasional brawl, but also about the shooting, the alleged rape and the drug arrest.

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