STILLWATER -- The last 24 hours have not been very kind to the LSU athletic department. According to an article by Brooks Kubena of the Advocate, the NCAA's investigation into basketball coach Will Wade is most likely headed to an independent investigation.
The investigation revolves around Wade's involvement of alleged bribery of recruits.
The reason it could be headed towards an independent investigation, by a group called the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, a panel formed to "handle complex NCAA infractions," is the lack of cooperation on Wade's part to provide phone records over the past 13 months.
“The NCAA made repeated requests between September 2018 and the arrival of the records in January 2020,” the Advocate reported.
That story also took another interesting turn Wednesday morning with ESPN's Mark Schlabach reporting "[Wade] arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men's basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or nonscholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects' enrollment at LSU,”
The allegations were included in the NCAA enforcement staff's request that its infractions case involving the LSU men's basketball program be adjudicated through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which was created to handle complex cases.
Could this, and possibly anything else the IARP could turn up in its independent investigation, help Oklahoma State in its appeal to the NCAA to overturn some or all of the punishments handed down to the Pokes in June?
A group from OSU's athletic department and Mike Boynton have been working on an appeals case for the NCAA looking to have some, if not all of the penalties handed down in June overturned.
The appeals process should begin sometime in the next 60 days, but Pokes Report learned back in June that Oklahoma State plans to take legal actions against the NCAA should the violations not get overturned much like Memphis did with the James Wiseman case.
The NCAA handed down a Notice of Allegation and a Level I violation following a lengthy investigation into the program following former associate head coach Lamont Evans' involvement in the pay-for-play scheme being investigated by the FBI.
Evans, who was fired in the fall of 2017 when the FBI investigation was first announced, accepted between $18,150 and $22,000 in bribes to direct players to sign with certain financial advisors.
While the penalties handed down didn't include the death penalty, the Cowboys were hit hard. Probably too hard considering head coach Mike Boynton wasn't involved whatsoever, the program received zero on or off court benefits throughout the entire period of wrongdoing and the athletic department and basketball program cooperated fully throughout the entire near-four year investigation.
- 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).
Now, a good portion of the penalties announced were self-imposed by the university and most have already been taken care of. But a one-year postseason ban? There are no players on the current roster, or for the past couple of seasons, that had anything to do with Lamont Evans or the violations.
Depending on how the independent investigation into LSU and Will Wade goes, I believe it could help in Oklahoma State's appeals case. Should the NCAA decide to uphold the penalties passed down to the Cowboys, LSU should be extremely worried.