Oklahoma City (AP) – Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant claims he was worried he had done something wrong when he "panicked" and lied to the NCAA about a meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders at a Texas athletics center.
In his written apology to the NCAA, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press following an open records request, Bryant said that he is "very, very sorry" and "made a terrible mistake" when he lied to Marcus M. Wilson, the NCAA's assistant director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities, in July.
"It was all me, there is no one else to blame," Bryant writes in his two-page apology. "I just panicked because I was scared and afraid that I was in some kind of trouble."
The All-American was declared ineligible by Oklahoma State last week and was expected to go through a follow-up interview with the NCAA on Tuesday on Indianapolis.
"I was scared because I was thinking, why would the NCAA talk to me unless they thought I had done something wrong, even though I did not think I had," Bryant writes in his letter. "I worried about the interview and was really nervous during the interview.
"I kept thinking about how football has been my dream for years and how football was going to allow the chance to make a living and help my family. My mom, my son, brother and sister all depend on me and I felt that somehow I had let them down."
Bryant's apology accompanies Oklahoma State's formal reinstatement request to the NCAA, in which associate athletic director for compliance Scott Williams asks the NCAA to consider "unique circumstances" and hand down a lighter punishment for Bryant.
Williams notes that "the threshold penalty for a violation of this nature is 50 percent withholding," apparently referring to a standard punishment that Bryant would be forced to miss half of the No. 15 Cowboys' games for his rules violation.
Bryant writes that he denied to Wilson that he had met with Sanders at a Frisco, Texas, facility named Fieldhouse USA when that "was not the truth." He describes that he met with Sanders and the two "jogged up and down the field, but did not go through any drills, and he did not work me out."
"When I was asked by Mr. Wilson about a work-out, I did not think that what I had done with Deion was a work-out," Bryant writes. "I did not break a sweat when I jogged with Deion. When my coaches have worked me out, like (strength) coach (Rob) Glass at OSU, I do many sprints, stairs and a lot of other drills, which leave me sweaty and tired.
"What I did with Deion was nothing like that."
Williams suggests that the NCAA could classify the meeting as preferential treatment, a secondary violation.
Bryant also confirmed that he and his girlfriend went to Sanders' house for dinner but "I was not hungry, so I did not eat."
Bryant asks that the NCAA reinstate him before the end of this season. Oklahoma State has played five of its 12 regular-season games, but Bryant has been held out of the last two because of the eligibility issues.
"I am sorry that Mr. Wilson had to spend so much time on my case, and am also sorry that I have let my family, my teammates, my coaches, my OSU fans and the NCAA down," Bryant writes. "I really love OSU and would like to have an opportunity to finish the season with OSU. ... I know I should be punished, I deserve it, but I hope that my punishment is not so bad that I do not get to play football again at OSU."
The documents also offer a clearer picture of the timeframe of the investigation. Although earlier documents suggested Wilson was suspicious of Bryant — asking "Why does his story keep changing?" — even before the season started, OSU's reinstatement request shows that the NCAA didn't discover Bryant had lied until a Sept. 24 interview with Sanders.
Bryant was held out of Oklahoma State's game two days later against Grambling State and also didn't play last week at Texas A&M.