STILLWATER, Okla. — “Shock. Anger. Frustration. Determination.”
That was the tweet by Oklahoma State senior athletics director of communications Kevin Klintworth shortly after the department released its statement in response to the NCAA punishment that came down the pike Friday morning.
Klintworth’s tweet covered a small array of the emotions from OSU faithful after the penalties were released to the public. It also described the feeling inside the OSU athletics department, which were expressed early Friday afternoon via a Zoom teleconference.
Cowboys men’s basketball coach Mike Boynton gave a quick opening statement before taking questions, along with OSU athletics director Mike Holder and Chuck Smrt, a former NCAA director of enforcement who assisted OSU with the process.
“I sit here extremely frustrated and really disappointed for this program, but most importantly for the players in our program, many of which weren’t a part of our program when this began and have absolutely very minimal knowledge of anything that even happened in this case,” Boynton said. “I feel badly for them, and I certainly hope that through the appeals process, we can understand more how terribly impactful this can be to their careers and their futures.”
On Friday morning, the NCAA released its punishment for OSU regarding violations by former associate head coach Lamont Evans, who was sentenced in June 2019 for bribes of around $20,000 with the intent to have players from OSU and previously South Carolina work with certain agents and financial advisers.
The Cowboy program was levied a one-year postseason ban for the 2020-21 season and fined $10,000. There will also be a three-year probation period and a reduction of three total scholarships for the program during the 2020-21 through 2022-23 academic years.
The NCAA also accepted self-imposed penalties by the university. OSU was already going to prohibit unofficial visits for two weeks during the fall of the 2020 and 2021 school years, to which the NCAA added an additional three weeks during the fall of 2020, 2021 and 2022. The NCAA also added to OSU’s self-imposed reduction of recruiting person days by 12 during this past school year, to now include the reduction by five during the 2020-21 academic year.
The NCAA also issued a 10-year show-clause order for Evans. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must “restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows case why the restrictions should not apply.”
Shortly after the penalties were released, Larry Parkinson, a member of the infractions committee that made the decision on Oklahoma State, answered questions for about 30 minutes. In his opening statement, Parkinson expressed that Evans’ actions were for his “own personal gain” with much of the 10-minute opening statement surrounding his actions.
“I find it almost impossible to reconcile the severe penalties imposed by the NCAA for the violations detailed in today’s report,” Holder said. “The NCAA agreed that Lamont Evans acted alone and for his own benefit. The NCAA also agreed that OSU did not benefit in recruiting, commit a recruiting violation, did not play an ineligible player and did not not display a lack of institutional control. They said OSU cooperated throughout the entire process.
“In short, OSU did the right thing. On the other hand, Lamont Evans’ conduct damaged an OSU player, damaged the men’s basketball team and damaged the university. He acted selfishly and without regard for those student-athletes who trusted him or the university that employed him – all for personal gain. Given this context, how does the NCAA justify a postseason ban and the loss of the scholarships for violations that damaged the university and basketball program? Those are penalties normally reserved for those seeking out a substantial or extensive recruiting or competitive advantage.”
Holder said OSU will fight the decision and try to lessen the punishment.
“I’m shocked by the ruling today and determined to vigorously fight against this injustice,” Holder said. “OSU has strived to do the right thing during this process, and all we expected in return was for the NCAA to reciprocate. If this is what happens when there is no competitive advantage gained, then the NCAA has created an expectation of significantly harsher penalties when a competitive advantage is involved. All of us that are members of the NCAA will be watching to see if these standards and expectations are applied consistently.”
Stillwater News Press Sports Editor Jason Elmquist contributed to this story.