Holder and Boynton are "Mad as %#^& and they aren't going to take it"

Robert Allen

STILLWATER -- It's not like Oklahoma State, and for that matter, the nation didn't have enough things, more important happenings than the announcement from the NCAA Committee on Infractions on the Lamont Evans case?

Remember, Lamont Evans hired by Brad Underwood and retained by Mike Boynton was caught up in that FBI sting that was tried by the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York. He pulled former Oklahoma State player Jeffrey Carroll into his room on the road during the 2016-17 season and pitched a financial advisor for the future. Evans was taking money gave Carroll a bribe to hire the financial advisor. Later, Evans pleaded guilty and served three months for his crime. Now the NCAA wants Oklahoma State to serve three-years for Evans' crime. 

Do you remember the old movie, Network? The brilliant actor Peter Finch played anchorman Howard Beale. Now, Howard was a little crazy and the most famous scene has him looking into the camera and wildly screaming, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Oklahoma State athletics director and school vice-president for athletics Mike Holder is usually a very reserved individual. Heck, Holder was the golf coach for 32-years and golf coaches aren't known for showing much emotion. You can't knock in the winning putt when you are yelling and screaming. 

Now, when the NCAA comes back and penalizes your school's basketball program for a crime by a rogue coach that nobody else was involved with. There is no competitive or recruiting advantage gained. There was no academic fraud. In fact, the publicity from Evans' arrest on federal charges of accepting $22,000 in bribes did damage to the school. It was a major public relations negative. 

It's a good thing Holder wasn't standing over a putt, because he more closely resembled the crazy anchorman Howard Beale.

"I find it almost impossible to reconcile severe penalties imposed," Holder said with more venom in his voice than I've heard. How does the NCAA justify a postseason ban and the loss of three scholarships for violations that damaged the program. (That's different than) penalties for those seeking substantial recruiting or competitive advantage. I'm shocked by this."

While you could distinctly hear anger in Holder's voice. The voice of Mike Boynton was flat out sad. It sounded like the voice of a coach that had been on the phone delivering bad news to his players. 

In know, before somebody texts me or responds to this story that nobody tested positive for COVID-19 or was injured in some way. There are other issues in the nation that are much more important, but to an 18-to-21-year-old basketball player hearing the words "post season ban" is pretty devastating.

"I sit here extremely frustrated, disappointed for this program but most importantly for the players in our program," Boynton said. "Many of which weren't apart of our program when this began.

"I certainly hope through the appeals process we can understand more how terribly impactful this can be to their careers and their futures," added Boynton  That's it."

The emotion is thick. This was really unforeseen. The whole scenario just doesn't add up. For Boynton those phone calls to explain something that nobody really thought would happen weren't easy.

"I called every single player on our roster returning and incoming," Boynton said during the afternoon zoom conference. "Obviously confusion on their part, rightfully so. I'm gonna be here to support any decision any of them decide to make."

Zach Lancaster has more on the impact of this on the players and especially on two players that might not have any other chance for the NCAA tournament in celebrated recruit and expected one-and-done player Cade Cunningham and the graduate transfer shooter in Ferron Flavors Jr. from California Baptist. 

Boynton has to think about those players, already had. Holder was still trying to figure out why his school was slammed to the mat like John Cena was in charge.

"Our gut feeling was we tried to do the right thing," Holder said. "Coach Evans was let go within 3 days. We needed to find out if there were any other problems, there weren't. No players recruited illegally -- any of the stuff you've heard that's egregious. We felt good."

Now, Holder said they will appeal. 

"We would want to appeal this because we disagree with the postseason band and loss of scholarships," Holder said with some venom still oozing in his voice. "We don't think that was fair, don't think that was justified given the nature of infractions. We want to contest that."

Attorney and NCAA specialist Chuck Smrt was on the press conference with Holder and Boynton. 

He didn't go for my question about the makeup of the committee that heard the case. Only a former Minnesota athletic director was involved from a Power Five school. The representatives from Akron and Vermont, the Big East, Princeton, and Belmont are from entities that don't operate in the same way or at the magnitude of an Oklahoma State. 

Smrt said the argument by Oklahoma State in front of the committee was that while this was a Level One violation by Evans that it was not a Level One violation by a school. The only blame on the school would be they didn't know what Evans was doing. In past years that would have been a defense, but not anymore.

"The intent of the violation was for personal gain," Smrt explained. "That's the question that should be looked at. With the other cases, what was the intent?"

Instead the committee said they kept the post season ban at one year because of Oklahoma State's cooperation. Without the cooperation they likely would have given them two-years post season ban.

"Most of the cases with similar penalties, there was a gain for competitive or recruiting advantage," Smrt said. "You did not see that here. I think this is abnormal with the level of penalty for the insignificant level of competitive or recruiting advantage."

Okay, let's see what happens. By the way, this was one level on violation. Kansas has five level one violations. Wouldn't want to be a Jayhawk, but not a good day to be a Cowboy either.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

The should be mad. The penalties are completely unfair and unsupported by credible evidence. It is time we stop getting pushed around by the NCAA and take a stand. They punish us like we were violating recruiting rules when there are many schools cheating as we speak and gaining an advantage over us and others. We got nothing from this private situation other than bad press. We did not know about, condone it or participate in it. Punishing an innocent organization or group of players for secret crimes the organization had no knowledge of or aided, is not supported by our system of justice. Guilt by association?

I bet Kansas is not punished as severely for each of their 5 "Level 1 Violations" as we got punished for our alleged one Level 1 violation. If you win championships, its seems to me that you get an exemption to cheat.