Calling their report “The Dirty Game,” Sports Illustrated is going after the Pokes with insights into alleged corruption within the program. Their five topics are “The Money,” “The Academics,” “The Drugs,” “The Sex,” and “The Fallout,” though so far, the fallout has been more focused on the piece than the program. When word first broke that this expose was coming, admittedly, things looked bad for Oklahoma State, but the journalistic integrity of one of its chief interviewers, Thayer Evans, has come into question again.
A simple Google search will uncover that this is not the first time that sports fans have had to deal with Evans’ reporting before. There’s not much doubt that the guy is not well-liked out there amongst the hoi polloi in Sportsland, but Evans is under fire for reportedly employing aggressive tactics and taking statements out of context. Those connected with Oklahoma State have been coming out of the woodwork defending their university and themselves, while others in media and the blogosphere have been equally unkind. For what it’s worth, Evans has defended himself as well.
There is always going to be backlash from within a university when stories like this are released, as some are going to reflexively defend their school. What must be determined, however, is if these people are just protecting the school seal and/or themselves, or if there are legitimate questions about the integrity of reporting.
When it seems like more people are killing the messenger than critically thinking about what message was given, then there is a problem.
As if the allegations of shoddy reporting from those interviewed are not enough, there is very little in the way of concrete evidence to substantiate these claims. Some key phrases for which a person might look in a large expose such as this are “SI has obtained proof that in (year)…” and “A school investigation has confirmed to SI…,” but those are not there. Some of this is going to be hard to prove, anyway, like students and Orange Pride girls having sex. 17 and 18-year olds getting it on isn’t really news, anyway.
None of us on the outside can conclusively prove that things such as those being reported in Sports Illustrated are not happening within the Oklahoma State program (or others). The problem is that many people take issue with Evans’ “proof” that it did.