A Power Six school finally received sanctions from the NCAA as a result of the FBI probe into college basketball recruiting; but in a bit of a surprise, Oklahoma State is the school facing the NCAA’s wrath. The headline is the 2020-21 postseason ban, but the full list is extensive:
The NCAA has handed Oklahoma State a one-year postseason ban for 2020-21 and a reduction in scholarships by three from 2020-23, among other penalties. pic.twitter.com/kTsqlz7Wz0
— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) June 5, 2020
This all stems from former associate head coach Lamont Evans, who was charged with Level I unethical conduct in September 2017 and was subsequently let go by Oklahoma State. Evans was involved in illegal schemes at both South Carolina and Oklahoma State, but his activity in Stillwater was limited to accepting bribes and an impermissible payment to former Cowboy Jeffrey Carroll. No benefit to recruiting was seen for the Cowboys as a result of Evans’ activity, which makes the NCAA cracking down this hard all the more puzzling.
For the record, Oklahoma State announced they will be fighting these penalties:
Oklahoma State's statement on the NCAA findings. pic.twitter.com/fa52sB41BP
— OSU Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) June 5, 2020
If everything sticks, this is extremely troubling for both Oklahoma State and a number of Power Six programs across the country. Mike Boynton was definitely thinking he was making it back to the tournament when he signed Cade Cunningham, the top ranked player in the 2020 class and one of the front runners to be the top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. With these sanctions now in play, it opens the door for Cunningham to get his release to play at a different school (Kentucky immediately comes to mind), play overseas for a year, or take the G League route like Jalen Green. For a guy who would only be in college for one season anyway, there’s no point in playing somewhere where there’s no shot of playing in the postseason (please keep your Anthony Edwards jokes to yourself).
More importantly, if all these sanctions stick for a single Level I charge for a terminated employee who did not commit any recruiting violations for the school in question, a lot of powerful people have reason to be nervous. Kansas is facing five Level I charges–with how hard the NCAA was on Oklahoma State, will the Jayhawks get something closer to the death penalty? Arizona, USC, and Auburn also had assistant coaches plead guilty to very similar charges as Evans. This could be the start of a lot of heads rolling across college basketball.