In my podcast this week with Cody Stavenhagen of the Tulsa World, he detailed his investigation into the background of Dede Westbrook. It doesn’t sound like it took Sherlock Holmes to track down the information provided in the story.
He did a Google search for Westbrook’s full name. When hits from a local paper came up indicating that Westbrook had been arrested two times, he verified the information with the Milam County Clerk through public records. Voila.
If a reporter can do that ad hoc, why didn’t the information turn up in the background check provided to Oklahoma’s athletic department?
It’s a fair question that actually has many plausible answers. Maybe something changed in terms of the records or search functions between Westbrook’s background check roughly two years ago and Stavenhagen’s investigation. Maybe the parameters of OU’s background checks didn’t cover arrests in which charges were dismissed. (It’s notable that at least 15 other schools offered Westbrook a scholarship while he was in junior college, according to Rivals.com’s information.)
Whether or not Westbrook’s past should have disqualified him from attending OU is a separate question entirely from the simple matter of due diligence. You hire an outside firm to provide services like background checks precisely so that you don’t get caught with your pants down. Clearly, that didn’t happen here, and the explanations coming from OU as to what happened are lacking in that regard.