Oklahoma St. faces major rules violation

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Officials at Oklahoma State said Thursday that a former baseball player accepted a used car as a gift while he was in a summer league in what the NCAA contends was a major rules violation that could cost the program.

A letter sent May 28 from the NCAA to Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis asks university officials to meet Aug. 7-8 with the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis.

Oklahoma State spokesman Gary Shutt said the player received a 10-year-old car from an out-of-state family he stayed with while playing in the summer league. He said the university contends it was not a major violation, in part because the family had no prior connection with Oklahoma State athletics.

He said the player did not appear in any games for the Cowboys after receiving the car.

"The facts do not support the 'failure to monitor' allegation made by the NCAA Enforcement Staff," Oklahoma State said in its response to the letter from David Price, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement. It said the violation was "isolated and inadvertent" and not an attempt to break NCAA rules "but an innocent and charitable act."

Shutt said the player was staying with a family in summer 2007. He said the player participated in church activities with the family and told church members of personal needs.

In response, Shutt said, the family collected some money -- about $200 -- from other members of the church and bought the car, which Shutt said was valued at less than $5,000.

Shutt also said the car was presented to the player as a gift from the church, not the family. The player told coach Frank Anderson of the gift, who told the school's associate athletic director for compliance, Scott Williams.

According to Oklahoma State's response to the NCAA, Williams determined that because it was thought the church provided the car, the gift was not a rules violation.

But further investigation determined it was the family that paid the majority of the car's purchase price. Oklahoma State acknowledged that made the gift a violation, but noted in its response that neither the family, the church nor the church's senior minister had any record of buying tickets for Oklahoma State athletic events or donating to the Cowboys' athletic department.

Oklahoma State acknowledged that Williams should have determined earlier that the gift of the car was a violation of NCAA rules, and said he has received a letter of reprimand.

When the player learned he could not be reinstated to the team until repayment for the gift was made, he opted to forfeit his final season of eligibility, the school said. Shutt said the player was not a pitcher, missed one season because of injury and started fewer than 15 games during his Oklahoma State career.

The Oklahoman and Tulsa World initially reported the potential violations, citing documents obtained under state open records laws. The names of the player and the family have been redacted throughout those documents.

Oklahoma State has not had a major NCAA rules violation since 1992, when its wrestling program was penalized.