Remember Sports Illustrated’s huge five part expose into improprieties at Oklahoma State University?  While the investigation was rolled out with plenty of pomp and circumstance at SI, the report quickly fell apart under public scrutiny.  As sources came forward to combat their quotes and other outlets produced documentation to refute claims, the SI juggernaut suffered death from a thousand pinpricks.

In fact, the lasting legacy of SI’s investigation into Oklahoma State might have been that it actually helped Cowboys recruiting.  After all, what college aged athlete isn’t going to be drawn to sordid details of money, sex, and drugs.

And now, more than a year later, Ok St and the NCAA have seemingly closed the book on the matter after a review of the allegations raised by Sports Illustrated.  In a damning blow for the magazine, the NCAA investigation into SI’s claims called them “fundamentally unfounded.”  Here’s the joint statement from Oklahoma State and the NCAA

After a thorough review by the NCAA Enforcement Staff and an outside consultant hired by Oklahoma State University, allegations of misconduct in the Oklahoma State football program as reported by the media in September 2013 were fundamentally unfounded.

Although a few individuals outside the university refused to cooperate, investigators reviewed approximately 50,000 emails and interviewed nearly 100 individuals involved with Oklahoma State’s football program, including current and former coaches, administrators, student-athletes, students and prospects.

Oklahoma State fully cooperated with the NCAA Enforcement Staff and participated in the interviews. As a result of the information collected during these joint interviews, the NCAA will issue a notice of allegations detailing three possible Level II violations.

Three Level II violations?  You can get that from sneezing too close to an NCAA athletic department.

If anything, Sports Illustrated didn’t recognize the changing tide in the college athletics culture when they published this massive 5-part series that was met with a collective shrug of the shoulders from all corners of the sports world.  Not only have fans suffered from fatigue when it comes to shock and awe over how the sausage is made in big-time college athletics, the NCAA has grown increasingly feeble when it comes to enforcing their own rules.  They’ve almost given up trying to govern FBS college football unless they absolutely must.  The NCAA has shown its ineffectiveness and hypocrisy time and time again and the institution is sinking.

Had this report been filed even 5 or 15 years ago, it would have been much more impactful.  Now, the phrase “NCAA violations” is now worth its weight in Bevo’s droppings.

But more importantly than the winds around college football these days blowing against Sports Illustrated, the flaws in the reporting were their own downfall.  From allegations of biased reporting against Thayer Evans to getting facts wrong to sources disputing quotes to the perception that they didn’t really dig that deep at all – it was an investigation doomed from the start.  And given this Ok St expose followed the magazine’s Tyrann Mathieu debacle and questions about their reporting into Ohio State’s TattooGate and it results in a serious stain on SI’s investigating prowess, especially into college athletics.