In a landmark ruling announced this morning, the NCAA set a crystal clear precedent for any programs involved in violations or investigations with the organization: Do not ever, no matter how severe or minor the infractions you committed are, under any circumstances, cooperate with the NCAA. You will be punished the same either way.
Oklahoma State did everything right during the process, starting from the moment they were made aware of the violations committed by former assistant coach Lamont Evans. The University reported it to the NCAA, complied with them and the FBI throughout the entire investigation and immediately fired Evans. This cooperation would however, mean absolutely nothing in the eyes of the NCAA, who would go on to impose a postseason ban on OSU, as well as a three-year probation and three scholarship reductions until the 2022-2023 season.
Essentially, Oklahoma State might as well have said nothing at all. They would have gotten the same punishment in the end.
Now, 17 months later, the NCAA upholds the sanctions with little to no explanation as to why, keeping Oklahoma State out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments this season for no reason other than OSU unknowingly employed a coach that was breaking rules.
Oklahoma State was not found to have benefited from Evans’ actions whatsoever. No games were won and no recruits received benefits. One player received $300, which he promptly gave back and served a suspension for.
What Took So Long?
The ruling sparks questions over why it took so long for a decision to be made, 517 days to be exact. Why two days before the beginning of the season? It seems like this was going to be the decision all along, so why not reject the appeal before last season?
Could it perhaps be due to the fact that the No. 1 player in college basketball and eventual top NBA Draft pick was leading the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament last season? The NCAA made dang sure to rake in the money Cade Cunningham brought in for them while Oklahoma State was playing in March Madness during their appeal. Now, he’s off to the league and the NCAA won’t suffer from the Cowboys being absent anymore.
As much as this hurts as a fan that I won’t get to watch my team play in any postseason tournaments, or that less scholarships can be used to go toward making my team better, the people that are hurt the most by this asinine ruling are the players. Most of the players on this current Cowboys team were still in middle school or early high school when the infractions in question took place. A lot of them weren’t even old enough to drive yet.
Marshall Scott put it perfectly, as the gross incompetence of the NCAA almost makes you laugh at how a $1 billion organization can possibly be trusted to make decisions like these.
An Explanation is Needed
I’m pleading with the NCAA for an explanation. What sense does it make to punish a group of people who had, quite literally, nothing to do with these violations? Violations so evidently bad that they warrant invalidating the hard work of dozens of young men? Not to mention the countless hours that the coaches and staff put in, all of whom also had nothing to do with the violations?
As OSU AD Chad Weiberg and coach Mike Boynton echoed during their press conference, what more could OSU have done? They cooperated to the fullest extent that they could and were punished for it. Schools like Kansas, LSU and others that have committed much worse violations, pay close attention. It’s obvious now that you don’t have to give the NCAA anything. It won’t matter at the end of the day. Heck, you might be better off flipping two middle fingers in the NCAA’s face than you would if you did what Oklahoma State did.