It was a dark day for Oklahoma State basketball fans in June when the NCAA handed down the ruling that the Cowboys would have to serve a one year postseason ban for violations committed by former OSU assistant Lamont Evans. Oklahoma State became the talk of the nation; experts from Jay Bilas to Kentucky basketball radio hosts were clamoring for a reinstatement and some leniency on the penalties.
It certainly feels like the punishment that the Oklahoma State basketball program received in June was years ago; just floating in the back of everyone’s mind as we all try to navigate a global pandemic and see if there will be a full basketball season in 2020-21. Unfortunately though; forgetting about the appeal and the process in which Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton Jr. is undergoing to get the decision overturned will not make it go away.
Without a doubt the appeal launched by OSU to regain their eligibility for the 2021 NCAA Tournament is not on the front burner of the minds of those at the NCAA headquarters. Perhaps without a global pandemic, we would have some semblance of where the OSU hoops team stands, but the NCAA has had to deal with a 500% increase in transfer requests to evaluate, changing landscapes of various sports seasons and championships and the unfortunate furloughing of it’s entire staff for 3-8 weeks starting early September. What does this mean for Oklahoma State and everyone across the country wanting to see Cade Cunningham causing chaos in the Big Dance? Well, it means more waiting.
Mike Boynton Jr. has dealt with adversity since the first day he became a head coach in Stillwater. This is nothing new for him or the Cowboy basketball program. The main difference between this adversity and what the Cowboys have faced before is the lack of control. The Pokes might not get a ruling on this appeal until the summer of 2021. Even when the decision was handed down, I stated I thought the Pokes would be playing into March based on the history of these appeal processes (not even taking into account added time due to COVID-19.)
On Wednesday before Oklahoma State’s first official practice being streamed to the public, Mike Boynton Jr. spoke to the media and outlined the uncertainty of this process, saying he currently has no update
“There’s been a lot of stuff happening on both sides,” Boynton said. “At the university, we’ve lost people. I think the NCAA staff has lost people. So, I think the process is maybe moving slower than usual. Although, I’ve never been through it, just looking at the precedent cases. There may be some delays unexpectedly just because of where we are in time.”
As you can see from the above graphic from the NCAA website, this is not an easy process that works itself out in a couple of months. In a similar case, Georgia Tech basketball waited 170 days before withdrawing an appeal because they weren’t going to make it in the NCAA tournament anyway and didn’t want to waste the following season on a ban if the NCAA held the punishments after the season ended. Detroit Mercy, a Division 1 basketball program out of the Horizon League, had an APR violation ban (grade related) and their appeal process lasted 292 days. Yes, almost a full calendar year. The OSU case is complex, with many issues and intricacies to take into account. Even if the world wasn’t shut down and the NCAA was forced to furlough it’s entire staff of 600 employees for September and October, it would have been a close call whether the appeal would be heard before March.
What this means for everyone wondering is probably the simplest of things to explain. Similar to a suspension in MLB, until the appeal is heard and the decision is finalized, Oklahoma State has zero punishments or bans regarding this postseason. Unless it was not publicized or reported, we still have not seen the committee on infractions publish a response to the appeal from Oklahoma State. Once that happens, we will know from looking at the timeline that it is about a 4-5 month wait for a decision.
While there might not be a light at the end of the tunnel for Cowboy faithful as far as seeing the ban overturned before the postseason, I am fairly confident in saying OSU will be playing in the Big 12 tournament (assuming there is one) and the NCAA tournament (should they qualify with a good enough record.)
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