incidents," says Duncan. "Isolated incidents," says the
university's interim president, David Swank. "A few individuals are
tarnishing the program."
Is it just a few
bad apples or could that "Sooner attitude" be contributing to the ills
plaguing Oklahoma? The evidence suggests that the Sooner football program is an
ethical wasteland. Oklahoma churns out good football teams, but can it churn
out good people, too? Sadly, in recent years the monster has generated more
than its share of athletes who have run into trouble after they've left Norman.
•On Feb. 10, Jimbo
Elrod, an All-America defensive end in 1975, was ordered to stand trial in
Muskogee, Okla., on a charge of stealing a pickup truck. He also faces
marijuana and cocaine possession charges.
•Greg Roberts, an
offensive guard who was the Out-land Trophy winner in 1978, is charged in Tampa
with racketeering and drug-related offenses. Authorities allege that Roberts is
"the principal operator...of a distribution ring that brought drugs from
Miami for sale in the Tampa area." In 1982 Roberts and former teammate
David Overstreet, who was killed in 1984 while driving drunk, were charged with
raping an Oklahoma coed. The woman dropped her complaint shortly after.
•John Truitt, a
defensive end from 1980 to '83, was arrested in Oklahoma City last April for
possession of cocaine. Truitt, who was in town to see the annual Red-White
intrasquad game, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute. He was
sentenced to probation.
•Stanley Wilson, a
running back for the Sooners from 1979 to '82 and a member of the Cincinnati
Bengals for the past six seasons, has a history of drug abuse that culminated
in his suspension from this year's Super Bowl. He was discovered apparently
strung out in his Miami hotel room the day before the game.
Then there are the
boosters. In December the NCAA ordered the athletic department to disassociate
itself from booster William Lambert for five years. The NCAA had determined
that Lambert had given linebacker Kert Kaspar the free use of a car and had
paid him $6,400 for summer work that was never performed. Lambert, an oil man
in Lindsay, Okla., told The Daily Oklahoman that he had employed an estimated
100 to 150 Sooner players and assistant coaches during a period of 15 years in
the 1970s and '80s. This abundance of goodwill toward Oklahoma football came
after Lambert's release from federal prison, where he served a four-year
sentence for possession of $300,000 in stolen stock certificates.
school can look to its board of regents for guidance, but many people at
Oklahoma, including a number of faculty members, view the state's seven-member
board as ineffectual in overseeing the athletic department. This benign neglect
turned into what appeared to be blatant contempt for the school's academic
standards in the fall of 1987, when the board intervened in the case of Joe
Brett Reynolds, a wrestler. Reynolds had been expelled for having another
student take one of his final exams and for falsifying a student ID card in an
attempted cover-up. Oklahoma provost Joan Wad-low kicked Reynolds out of school
and said that he could apply for readmission in two years. Reynolds retained
former university legal counsel Stan Ward as his lawyer and petitioned the
regents for a lesser sentence.
Frank Horton, who
was president of the university at the time, lobbied against a reduction. After
all, Wadlow had been lenient with Reynolds: Of 28 students expelled for
academic misconduct since 1981, only two had been granted permission to reapply
after two years. "The [student] code states that expulsion is usually
intended to be permanent," Horton said.
At a hearing
before the regents, Ward compared Reynolds's punishment to SMU football's death
penalty, imposed on that school in 1987. Reynolds's plea found sympathetic
ears. Charles Sarratt, a onetime Sooner quarterback, wondered if Reynolds might
have been entrapped by the professor. The board voted 5-2 to, in effect, reduce
the suspension to 11 months.