NCAA upholds postseason ban against Oklahoma State's men's basketball program
In 2020, the NCAA hit OSU with a one-year postseason ban and three years of probation, and removed three scholarships over a period of three years. The ruling was the result of a Level I violation involving former associate head coach Lamont Evans, who was sentenced to three months in prison in 2019 for accepting up to $22,000 in bribes to push players at OSU and South Carolina to certain agents and financial advisers. Evans was fired by the school in 2017.
In its appeal, OSU argued the NCAA infractions committee panel incorrectly classified OSU's case the same as Evans. They claimed the former coach's actions did not provide any competitive advantages or benefits to the school.
But the NCAA said that holding the school responsible at the same level as Evans was consistent with "legislated NCAA violation structures."
Coach Mike Boynton, who took over the program after the violations occurred, was visibly upset and tearful about the decision. He said it's not a fair outcome for current OSU players, some of whom were in junior high when the violations occurred.
"I had a young man in my meeting last night raise his hand and ask me, 'Coach, what are we talking about?" That's how long it's been," said Boynton.
In a written statement, OSU athletic director Chad Weiberg called the NCAA's decision unprecedented.
"There are other strikingly similar cases that did not include postseason bans and had only minor penalties," said Weiberg. "We had a rogue employee carrying out actions that benefited him alone, and he went to great lengths to assure his actions were undetectable. He was terminated when we learned of his actions."
Dr. Kayse Shrum, President of Oklahoma State University, said that from the briefing she received, the ban was excessive and did not align with the facts.
"We were right to appeal and thought we would receive fair consideration," said Shrum. "The NCAA's inconsistent standards and applications of penalties are a reflection of a broken system."
OSU self-reported the infraction to the NCAA, but both Boynton and Weiberg expressed frustration with the process and felt the school was penalized for being forthcoming. Boynton said their cooperation with the NCAA made things worse.
Had the chance to do it all again, Weiberg said they would do things differently.
"We cooperated with the NCAA, expedited the process and received no credit for it," said Weiberg. "What message is the NCAA sending here? This is further evidence that the NCAA system is broken."
The NCAA postseason ban could also affect OSU's participation in the Big 12 Conference tournament. But, Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he anticipates a review of current conference rules.
"Conference rule prohibits an institution under a NCAA postseason ban from competing in the Big 12 Championship tournament during the effected season," said Bowlsby. "It has been many years since any of our schools received such a ban and, as a result, I anticipate a policy review by our Athletics Directors to ensure that current stipulations remain appropriate."
OSU was eligible for postseason play last season while the ruling was under appeal. The school won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2009.
The Cowboys play their first exhibition game of the season on Friday in Stillwater against UCO.
This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.