NCAA Brings Notice of Level 1 Violation Against OSU Basketball

It is something that's been hanging over the heads of everyone in the OSU mens basketball program for more than two years. What would the NCAA do with information from the FBI's sting operation that uncovered a huge college basketball bribery scandal? Caught up in the FBI's net was then current and now former Cowboy assistant coach Lamont Evans.

Now we know.

Despite OSU's full cooperation with the NCAA and the FBI before it, the school has been served with a Notice of Allegations which actually includes just one allegation but it is quite serious, a Level 1 charge involving Evans. Evans had been the top assistant on former head coach Brad Underwood's staff. When Underwood left for Illinois, Mike Boynton also a staff assistant at the time, was named head coach. Evans was fired shortly after the FBI investigation became known. He has since pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to steer players toward certain financial advisers.

The good news for OSU in all of this is that after a lengthy FBI investigation and then a lengthy NCAA investigation no one currently on staff or on the roster was found to be involved. Head Coach Mike Boynton issued a written statement.

“We have been open and transparent with our team, our recruits and the NCAA. We’re disappointed this occurred but are pleased that a thorough investigation has determined the most serious violation was reported in the news more than two years ago. We look forward to presenting our case on the level of violation to the NCAA.”

The university also issued a statement. The full text is below.

“Over the past two years, Oklahoma State University has cooperated closely with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the NCAA in the investigation of the allegations of wrongdoing by former associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, Lamont Evans. The essential factual allegation was that Mr. Evans conspired with other individuals to take bribes to persuade or influence players at a prior university and then subsequently at OSU to select the individuals who paid the bribes as financial advisors.

“Following the NCAA’s thorough investigation with OSU’s full cooperation and participation, the University agrees that Mr. Evans did in fact accept bribes for the purpose of steering players to financial advisors in violation of NCAA bylaws. While OSU is very disappointed that this occurred, we were relieved to learn that there were no recruiting or other major violations on the part of the institution. There are no allegations involving current student-athletes or coaching staff.

“In addition to the primary finding is the finding that one then-member of the basketball team received $300 from Mr. Evans. This information was reported to OSU by the student-athlete and then self-reported to the NCAA by OSU in October 2017. The student-athlete’s eligibility was restored, and he never competed while ineligible.

“The NCAA enforcement staff is of the opinion that the Committee on Infractions might consider this to be a Level I violation by the institution. The University feels strongly that the bribes were taken for the sole benefit of Mr. Evans who was terminated within days of the announcement of the charges. The University did not benefit in any way and was considered by the Federal government to be the victim of the scheme. As such, we have asked to appear before the Committee on Infractions to present our position on the level of violation.”

A Level 1 allegation can include penalties like postseason bans, show-cause orders against coaches and scholarship reductions.

Because of its level of cooperation with the investigations OSU had hoped to avoid a Level 1 allegation and now will try to get that reduced. However, the NCAA tends to punish those who least deserve it since by the time an NCAA investigation is wrapped up usually the offending coaches or players or recruits are no longer involved with the university in question.

We'll see how it turns out this time but the Cowboys are doubtful to escape without any wounds even though the results of the NCAA's own investigation shows the only thing current staffers and players are guilty of is following the rules.

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