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July 10, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY - The father of an Oklahoma quarterback says he plans legal action against a Nebraska football fan who posted a bogus story on an Internet message board claiming two Sooners had been arrested on cocaine distribution charges.
James W. Conradt, a Nebraska football fan living in Austin, Texas, said he did not mean to hurt Oklahoma quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Landry Jones with his Internet hoax, according to a story posted on The Oklahoman's Web site late Wednesday.
"I want to express my deepest apologies to the families," Conradt said Wednesday night after his story was reported as fact by at least two Texas radio stations. "That's the thing I'm regretful about. I didn't want to hurt anyone."
Landry's father, Kevin Jones, indicated Conradt's apology may not be enough.
"I'm going to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law," Jones said. "I've got deep enough pockets to do it."
Conradt allegedly lifted a template off The Oklahoman's Web site, wrote and pasted a bogus story about the arrest and posted it on a message board.
"When this was brought to our attention, we took immediate action," Oklahoman publisher David Thompson said. "Through our technology and news teams, we tracked him down and told him to cease and desist. We take this very seriously and will consider legal action."
Oklahoma associate athletic director Kenny Mossman said the hoax is the latest in a disturbing trend.
"We feel it's real unfortunate how many things have germinated from an anonymous starting point that are unfounded, untrue and, as this story proves, hurtful," Mossman said. "The Internet has enabled a lot of this kind of thing to happen, and it's really disappointing."
Conradt said he was on a Nebraska message board when some OU fans began writing smack.
"I just wanted to get 'em all riled up, I guess," Conradt said.
He did an Internet search for Sooner sports and came across the www.newsok.com template. He told The Oklahoman he did not realize it was The Oklahoman's Web site.
"It was a bad decision," Conradt said. "When I got home, I got on my computer, one of the moderators on the Oklahoma site e-mailed me and said some Oklahoma people are upset about this. That's when I took it down."
Kevin Jones said he received a couple of frantic calls after the hoax spread across the Internet.
"I knew it was a prank thing right away," Jones said. "Anybody that knows Sam or knows Landry knows the story wasn't true to begin with. But when radio stations down in Houston and Austin report it, it's very hurtful.
"Why would somebody be so malicious about it? Don't know why someone would trample two kids like this. I was just dumbfounded. People need to learn from this."