By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
An internal investigation has cleared West Virginia University assistant football coach Joe DeForest of any misconduct or violation of NCAA rules while employed by the school.
A series of articles in Sports Illustrated magazine last month had cited DeForest for making cash payments of up to $500 for performance during a decade of coaching at Oklahoma State.
DeForest joined head coach Dana Holgorsen’s coaching staff at WVU in 2012.
The school’s announcement of the findings of the investigation it undertook following the publication of the charges interestingly did not identify DeForest, Oklahoma State or Sports Illustrated by name.
“WVU has not found any infractions of NCAA rules or other misconduct at our institution,” the release read. “WVU is unable to comment on the veracity of the media allegations levied against the assistant coach while employed at another institution, and defers to that institution, as well as appropriate NCAA infractions personnel, to complete a review and assessment of those allegations.”
Oklahoma State is in the process of investigating the alleged violations. Former NCAA enforcement officer Charles E. Smart is leading the independent investigation.
The NCAA has declined comment. NCAA rules bar boosters from providing cash or other benefits based on athletic performance.
SI reported that eight former Cowboys told the magazine they had received cash payments and 29 others were named by teammates as having also taken money. Former defensive tackle Brad Girtman said he saw some star players get “monster payments,” while he once received $500 from a member of the football staff.
Girtman said the rates were told to him by DeForest, who ran special teams and the secondary under Les Miles and then was an associate head coach under Mike Gundy, the current head coach, from 2005-11.
Girtman also said he recalled DeForest handing him a debit card in 2003 with $5,000 on it and that it was periodically refilled. DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, the running backs coach from 2002-04, also made payments directly to players, SI reported.
Among other allegations in the Sports Illustrated series were that boosters and assistant coaches provided sham jobs for which players were paid, tutors and school personnel completed school work for players, and some members of a hostess program used by the football coaching staff had sex with recruits.
DeForest is special teams coordinator at WVU as well carrying the title of associate head coach and earns $500,000 a year. Last season he was defensive coordinator but lost that job when WVU turned in its worst defensive season in the school’s history.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.