The NCAA has rejected Oklahoma State‘s appeal and banned the Cowboys from the 2022 men’s basketball postseason, the organization announced Wednesday.
Oklahoma State was originally given a postseason ban in the summer of 2020, but the Cowboys appealed the decision and were allowed to play while under appeal. Led by No. 1 NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State went 21-9 and received a 4-seed in last season’s NCAA tournament.
The NCAA also placed Oklahoma State on three years’ probation and reduced the Cowboys’ scholarship limit by three, as well as several recruiting restrictions — all of which were upheld by the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee.
The penalty stems from the 2017 FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. Oklahoma State was given a Level 1 violation involving former associate head coach Lamont Evans, who accepted between $18,150 and $22,000 in bribes to steer players from Oklahoma State and South Carolina, where he also spent time as an assistant coach, to certain agents and financial advisers. Evans was sentenced in June 2019 to three months in prison.
According to the appeals committee, Oklahoma State argued that the school’s case shouldn’t have been classified at the same level as Evans’ and that the NCAA didn’t give enough weight to mitigating factors in judging the classification of case.
In response, the appeals committee wrote: “We do not find the appellant has demonstrated that the panel abused its discretion in the application and weighing of the aggravating and mitigating factors. Further, given that we have also determined that the panel did not abuse its discretion in the determination of the level of this case, the appealed penalties are affirmed.”
Evans was also given a 10-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA.
“The University is stunned by the severity of the penalties and strongly disagrees with them,” the school said when the original postseason ban was given. “The penalties do not align with the facts and are unfair and unjust. The NCAA agreed with OSU that Lamont Evans acted alone and for his own personal gain. Evans was terminated by OSU on Sept. 28, 2017, within 72 hours of learning of allegations against him.
“The NCAA also agreed that OSU did not benefit in recruiting, commit a recruiting violation, did not play an ineligible player, and did not display a lack of institutional control. As the report documents, OSU cooperated throughout the process, which lasted two years.”
Oklahoma State is the first school to be given a postseason ban by the NCAA due to the FBI investigations. Auburn and Arizona, which also had assistant coaches plead guilty, self-imposed postseason bans last season. USC was not given a postseason ban.
South Carolina, where Evans was also determined to have committed violations, avoided a postseason ban when the NCAA handed down its penalties in February 2020.