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September 17, 2013

OSU hires investigator to look into football team

(Continued)

STILLWATER, Okla. —

At the NCAA, Smrt oversaw investigations of major infractions and attended more than 100 hearings before the organization's Committee on Infractions. He now consults with schools, conducting audits and reviews of potential violations.

The final part of Sports Illustrated's investigation detailed rocky paths of OSU Cowboys driven off the team, focusing on six former players who were dismissed between 2003 and 2011.

They included receiver Artrell Woods, who fractured two vertebrate during a training accident in July 2007. Though he rejoined the team after months of rehab, he'd lost physical ability and was later designated a "medical non-counter," meaning he could still attend school on scholarship even though he wouldn't play.

Woods ultimately transferred to a smaller school in Edmond, Okla. Today, SI reported, he works as a waiter in Texas, where he scrapes by with his mother and her foster children.

The magazine described some former players whose descent made them suicidal or near-suicidal.

"I lost value for life," Kevin White, a back-up linebacker and running back, told the magazine. "I had entrusted my life to Oklahoma State, and it crumbled."

Coaches had criticized White for being an introvert, SI reported, when he was was dropped for violating team rules in 2006. He had been riding in a car that was stopped by police, who searched and found marijuana, yet he was the only person in the car not charged.

The report also described the downfall of offensive lineman Jonathan Cruz, dropped for academic reasons. Cruz at one point attempted suicide with a revolver, fantasizing about coaches finding his body. He later found destruction in drugs, eventually becoming a trafficker.

Having cleaned up, he now teaches and coaches at a high school near Dallas.

"I was so miserable, and nobody understood because, in my opinion at the time, nobody cared to understand," he said.

Chris Day is associate editor of the Stillwater NewsPress.

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