Oklahoma State men’s basketball will serve a postseason ban in 2022 after the NCAA rejected an appeal of its decision that originally was supposed to take place in 2021, sources tell Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde. CBS Sports originally reported the news. The postseason ban ties back to the 2017 FBI investigation that uncovered illegal activity in college basketball recruiting, including bribery and fraud.
Oklahoma State was implicated in the scandal because of the actions of now former assistant coach Lamont Evans, who was found to have accepted bribes to influence student-athletes during the 2016–17 season. Evans spent three months in prison in 2019 and received a lengthy 10-year show cause penalty by the NCAA. Evans worked under former OSU head coach Brad Underwood during the 2016–17 season and was dismissed after the investigation broke in September 2017, before current head coach Mike Boynton ever coached a game for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were allowed to play in the postseason a year ago during a lengthy appeal process, with a decision just now coming after the original punishment was laid down in June 2020. That appeal window allowed No. 1 NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham to play in the NCAA tournament during what was a breakthrough season for Boynton and the Cowboys. Oklahoma State finished 21–9 and was one of just two teams all season that beat eventual national champion Baylor.
The punishment earned backlash around the sport, particularly in Stillwater, because of its perceived unfairness relative to other programs implicated in the bribery scandal. South Carolina, where Evans worked as an assistant coach prior to his time at OSU, received two years of probation and minor recruiting penalties. According to CBS Sports's Matt Norlander, the ban is "believed to be the first in NCAA history wherein a school has received [it] without being assessed one of these five major violations: head coach responsibility charge; lack of institutional control; failure to monitor; any recruiting violation; academic fraud."
Boynton later released a statement expressing his "great disappointment" in the ruling:
While the Cowboys don’t have a star like Cunningham waiting in the wings this season, SI’s national rankings pegged Oklahoma State as the No. 25 team in the country in the preseason and a clear NCAA tournament contender. The timing of the appeal decision is also challenging, given today’s transfer portal climate. After the initial ban last summer, starting center Yor Anei entered the transfer portal and landed at SMU. This decision coming just days before the season means players are essentially without options in a year when they won’t be permitted to play in the postseason.
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