The NCAA rejected Oklahoma State’s appeal of a postseason-ban ruling from 2021 and upheld the initial punishment, the NCAA announced Wednesday morning. The Cowboys men’s basketball program will not be eligible to compete in the 2022 postseason. An appeals process that lasted 17 months allowed Oklahoma State to be eligible for — and ultimately play in — the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but the 2021-22 Cowboys will not be afforded the same fate.
The NCAA also upheld all of its original punishments, 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, pled guilty in January 2019 and eventually spent 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 a basketball/marketing agency while 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. Dawkins 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 the NCAA acted upon was based off of what was provided in federal court. Oklahoma State is being punished for lack of cooperation (strictly from Evans) and unethical conduct, plus the fact Evans accepted dirty money.
“We are profoundly disappointed for our student-athletes, none of whom were here at the time of this case,” OSU athletic director Chad Weiberg said in a statement. “This is an unprecedented decision by the NCAA. There are other strikingly similar cases that did not include postseason bans and had only minor penalties. 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.”
OSU coach Mike Boynton added that the timeline for a decision was “unfathomable.”