Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

July 15, 2014

The Holt Report: Stillwater's Talley unfairly accused

STILLWATER, Okla. — When Sports Illustrated’s “The Dirty Game” expose on Oklahoma State football became public, I had serious doubts about the validity of several of the accusations the magazine brought to light.

But, none of the accusations were as disgusting as SI’s treatment of Stillwater’s John Talley, the longtime Northeast Oklahoma representative for the state’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization.

He was portrayed as making improper payments to OSU football players.

Talley is defending his reputation as he recently filed a lawsuit against Sports Illustrated and writers Thayer Evans and George Dohrmann for maliciously publishing false information.

Anyone who knows Talley, the former youth pastor at University Heights Baptist Church, would describe him as the epitome of honesty and integrity.

He’s touched numerous lives of collegiate and high school athletes during his FCA tenure, working with FCA chapters at OSU, Stillwater High and other schools within his district.

Talley is all about teaching life lessons. He’s committed to teaching accountability, responsibility and respect. He’s given numerous team building presentations for collegiate and high school teams.

He had a ministry with inner city athletes, teaching them the value of hard work and commitment as well as introducing them to outdoor activities such as horseback riding.

I’ve known Talley since he was UHBC’s youth pastor. He and his family are cherished friends. I could write volumes about what he means to our family.

I’ve seen his positive interaction with young people and I’ve witnessed his work ethic.

When my mother-in-law built a house a few years ago and a large dog pen needed to be removed from her property. It was six feet high and the posts were sunk in concrete.

The pen, which was located under a large tree, featured briars, broken tree limbs and, as we realized later, poison ivy.

We contacted Talley about hiring the FCA to remove the dog pen. We paid a per hour fee for their work.

Talley brought a flat-bed trailer to handle the job along with four O-State football players, including Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and the late Vernon Grant.

We remember Lawson-Kennedy digging around a post, lifting it and placing it on the trailer. We worried about them, but they couldn’t have been more pleasant to be around.

Those players learned about hard work and also learned that if you are going to work for Talley, you need to wear work clothes instead of baggy shorts and tank tops. A week after the pen was removed, Talley told me that Grant had been victimized by the poison ivy.

That’s just one example. Others have employed the group for tasks such as building fences, clean up projects and other jobs that featured hard work.

When all the facts are presented, we suspect SI is going to have difficulty defending its treatment of Talley.

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