Barry Switzer says a pigskin briefcase he gave to quarterback Jamelle Holieway as a graduation present was one of many gifts he handed out during his years as coach at Oklahoma.
"There's no telling how many golf bags I've given away to friends," Switzer told The Daily Oklahoman in Sunday's editions. "Jamelle is not the only kid I've ever given a shirt or a sweater to. Kids that didn't have a shirt, I said `Here, take this one.' But I also gave them to kids who were not athletes."Switzer said he had received the briefcase as a gift, and that he gave away other "freebies" such as shirts to athletes and non-athletes during his 16 years as the Sooners' head coach.
Switzer was responding to a story in Friday's Los Angeles Times in which Holieway said Switzer had bought him drinks and given him a leather sports bag.
An athlete is prohibited from receiving a gift after completion of his eligibility if it is in recognition of his athletic accomplishments, but NCAA rules provide only that he could no longer participate in athletics. Holieway had used up his eligibility when he got the briefcase.
David Berst, director of enforcement for the NCAA, has said the NCAA is primarily interested in incidents that occur after a school has been placed on probation. The Sooners were hit with a three-year probation on Dec. 19.
In reference to Holieway's claim that Switzer bought him drinks, the former coach said, "I probably bought him a beer, not a mixed drink, sometime in a restaurant in the off-season."
"I'm sure that happened. I've done that for other kids in my years at Oklahoma, after a bowl game was over, never during the season and just in a social setting. I've bought a beer for cheerleaders before, just trying to be a gentleman."
Holieway told the Times he was able to use gas stations, laundries and restaurants owned by Oklahoma supporters without paying. But he said he wouldn't give specifics because he did not want to put the school in a position to receive the "death penalty," under which a program can be suspended for one or two years.