The NCAA today placed Oklahoma State's football program on four years probation, barring the Cowboys from postseason play for three years and keeping them off live television for two years.

The committee found that the sanctions warranted the elimination of three conference home games and a limit of eight total games in 1989, but said it would not apply that penalty because of the cooperation by Oklahoma State's current administration and coaching staff.The NCAA's Committee on Infractions, citing more than 40 rules violations, also limited to 20 the number of scholarships Oklahoma State can offer in the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 academic years.

Schools usually can offer 25 scholarships.

The Cowboys, coming off a season in which they finished 11th nationally and had their first Heisman Trophy winner in tailback Barry Sanders, also will be limited in the number of paid recruiting visits they can offer in 1989-90 and 1990-91.

The probation comes three weeks after the NCAA hit the University of Oklahoma with three years' probation.

The Sooners cannot play in bowl games after the 1989 and 1990 seasons, will be kept off live television in 1989, and also saw a reduction in scholarships.

Some believed Oklahoma State's penalty would not be much more severe than the Sooners'.

Oklahoma State officials said they believed their cooperation with the NCAA would hold them in good stead with the Committee on Infractions.

The Committee on Infractions said the most serious finding involved a former assistant football coach who became involved in a bidding war with a "very talented and highly visible prospective student athlete."

The NCAA report said the athlete received $5,000 cash after signing his letter of intent to play at Oklahoma State, and payments in cash averaging $125 during the first year of enrollment and $200 during the second year.

Also, the athlete was provided with an "expensive and distinctive" sports car at no cost, the NCAA report said, with payments for the car and insurance being made by three university boosters.

Earlier reports have said All-America wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes was at the center of the NCAA's investigation.

The former assistant is believed to be Willie Anderson, who served as recruiting coordinator when Dykes was recruited. Anderson was let go in early 1986.