The NCAA rejected Oklahoma State's appeal of a postseason-ban ruling from 2021 and upheld the initial punishment, sources told CBS Sports. The Cowboys men's basketball program will not be eligible to compete in the 2022 postseason. An appeals process that lasted 17 months allowed last season's team to be eligible and ultimately play in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but the 2021-22 Oklahoma State team will not be afforded the same fate.
An announcement will be made by the NCAA and Oklahoma State later Wednesday.
OSU President Dr. Kayse Shrum said in a statement, “I am very disappointed by the NCAA Division 1 Infractions Appeals Committee’s decision to uphold a one-year ban on the postseason competition for our men’s basketball team this upcoming season. From the briefings I received on this matter when I became president of Oklahoma State, the ban was excessive and did not align with the facts. We were right to appeal and thought we would receive fair consideration. The NCAA’s inconsistent standards and applications of penalties are a reflection of a broken system. Our one-year postseason ban is excessive, especially considering our coaches and players were never involved with the rogue assistant coach who acted alone in violating the rules, as the evidence showed. Our appeal was about seeking a fair outcome from the NCAA and supporting our innocent coaches and players, who sadly will now pay the price. Coach Boynton, his staff, and our players have returned our program to the national stage the right way — through hard work, dedication, and following the rules. Coach Boynton is outstanding and leads our program with the utmost integrity. We are proud of him and his players. I am surprised the NCAA would turn their backs on principles of fairness, justice and equality when considering what would have been an appropriate response to the facts.”
The NCAA also upheld all of its original punishments, sources said, including a three-year probationary period that will start effective immediately and end Nov. 3, 2024; a scholarship reduction of three over an unspecified period of time; and other recruiting restrictions (such as fewer days on the road, fewer official visits and phone call limitations) that were previously put in place and adhered to by Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State was one of four schools that had an assistant arrested by the FBI in late September 2017. That assistant, Lamont Evans, would later plead guilty in January 2019 and eventually spend three months in federal prison. Evans was found to have acted unethically and illegally after being captured on federal wiretaps and surreptitious videos. Evidence obtained by the federal government caught Evans willingly participating in a plot to recruit players to schools he was employed by: Oklahoma State and, prior to that, South Carolina. Evans was proven to have accepted at least $18,150 in bribes -- all of it money unknowingly provided by the federal government during its sting operation. Evans was working with Christian Dawkins, a former runner for a sports agency, who was trying to build out his own business for future basketball clients. Evans was convicted in May 2019.
Evans, who never had to speak at trial due to pleading guilty, did not cooperate with the NCAA's investigation. That was a factor in Oklahoma State's punishment, a source told CBS Sports. Everything else was based off of what was said in the FBI trial. Oklahoma State is being punished for lack of cooperation and unethical conduct, plus the fact Lamont accepted money
The NCAA's investigation did not begin until the conclusion of the multiple trials tied to the FBI's probe into college basketball, which led to 10 guilty pleas and/or convictions, including four former assistant coaches at Oklahoma State, Arizona, Auburn and USC. The NCAA's only piece of evidence in its investigation of any rule-breaking by OSU was proof of Evans being involved in a $300 payment to former Oklahoma State senior Jeffrey Carroll, who later paid back the money and served a three-game suspension during the 2018-19 season.
"A postseason ban for a bunch of kids that were 15, 16 years old when a lot of this was going on? It's completely, completely out of bounds," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said at the time of the initial ruling.