Oklahoma State hit with one year postseason ban for NCAA violations uncovered in FBI investigation
The NCAA made its intentions loud and clear on Friday: it punished Oklahoma State's men's basketball program with a postseason ban for the 2020-21 season.
Oklahoma State is the first program to be served with punishments by the Committee on Infractions as a result of the FBI's probe into college basketball recruiting.
The sanctions stem from a Level I unethical conduct charge against former Cowboys associate head coach Lamont Evans, who was one of 10 men charged in September 2017 in the federal government's investigation that led to Evans ultimately serving three months in prison in the summer of 2019.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton was never charged in the case. Boynton took over the program in the spring of 2017; he was previously an assistant for one season at OSU, alongside Evans, who were both hired at the school by former Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood, who is now at Illinois. (Underwood was not mentioned/charged in the case.)
Evans was accused of unethical conduct after federal wiretaps and undercover videos caught him engaging in schemes to recruit players to schools he was employed by. The endgame was to link prospects up with then-runner Christian Dawkins' sports agency, which was unknowingly being funded by the FBI in order to prove the government's case.
Evans was caught doing this while at South Carolina and at Oklahoma State. He was involved in an impermissible payment to former Oklahoma State player Jeffrey Carroll, who subsequently was suspended for three games, but Evans was not involved in the nefarious recruitment of any player who went on to Oklahoma State. He pled guilty to his charges, which included accepting at least $18,150 dollars -- and potentially as much as $46,000 -- in bribe money.
It's potentially devastating for Oklahoma State in this regard: the school has long since received a commitment from Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2020. It remains to be seen whether or not this ruling will have an impact on Cunningham's future with the school.
Oklahoma State is expected to appeal.
Here is the list of penalties handed down by the NCAA:
- Three years of probation.
- A 2020-21 postseason ban for the men's basketball team.
- A $10,000 fine plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget (self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction of men's basketball scholarships by a total of three during the 2020-21 through 2022-23 academic years.
- A reduction of men's basketball official visits to 25 during the 2018-19/2019-20 rolling two-year period and to 18 during the 2019-20/2020-21 rolling two-year period (self-imposed by the university).
- A prohibition of men's basketball unofficial visits for two weeks during the fall of 2020 and two weeks during the fall of 2021 (self-imposed by the university). The university also must prohibit unofficial visits for three additional weeks during the fall of 2020, 2021 and/or 2022.
- A prohibition of men's basketball telephone recruiting for a one-week period during the 2020-21 academic year (self-imposed by the university). The university also must prohibit telephone recruiting for six additional weeks during the probation period.
- A reduction in the number of men's basketball recruiting person days by 12 during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed by the university). The university also must reduce the number of recruiting person days by five during the 2020-21 academic year.
- A 10-year show-cause order for the former associate head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
- A prohibition of the men's basketball staff from participating in off-campus evaluations for three consecutive days during the summer evaluation periods in 2020 (self-imposed by the university).