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Oklahoma State coach slams NCAA after postseason ban upheld: ‘That’s utterly ridiculous’

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The NCAA officially rejected Oklahoma State’s appeal and banned the men’s basketball program from the postseason in 2022 on Wednesday, and head coach Mike Boynton is not happy.

Boynton, who held back tears while speaking with reporters on Wednesday after the ruling, slammed the NCAA’s decision — which came after the massive FBI investigation into corruption throughout college basketball.

"I'm disappointed, disgusted, appalled, frustrated — but somewhere in Indianapolis there's a group of people celebrating," Boynton said, via ESPN. "They won. Our players don't deserve and shouldn't have to deal with this.

"It was a single NCAA violation. One player received $300. One player. Not a recruit. Not a future recruit. Not a family member. One current player received $300. And in and of itself, because it was self-reported by us, it's a secondary violation. So the punishment is you pay the money back, serve your suspension — which the kid did — and you move on.

"It's no wonder that nobody trusts [the NCAA]. They don't have to come and do this, and answer questions, and talk to kids, and talk to parents."

NCAA upholds Oklahoma State's postseason ban

The NCAA first hit Oklahoma State with a postseason ban before the 2020-21 season after giving the school a Level 1 violation after former assistant coach Lamont Evans accepted bribes to push players to agents and advisers.

Evans, who also coached as an assistant at South Carolina, was sentenced to three months in prison in 2019 and given a 10-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA. He was one of several former college assistants who were arrested in the scandal, along with ex-Arizona assistant Book Richardson, ex-USC assistant Tony Bland and ex-Auburn assistant Chuck Person.

Among other penalties, the NCAA banned Oklahoma State from the postseason during the 2020-21 season and placed the program on three years of probation.

The university appealed the ruling, and was allowed to compete in the NCAA tournament last season — where Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys earned a No. 4-seed after finishing the regular season 21-9.

Yet on Wednesday, the NCAA upheld the ban — meaning Oklahoma State can’t compete in the NCAA tournament in March. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement Wednesday that the Cowboys can’t participate in the Big 12 conference tournament, either.

"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,” the NCAA appeals committee wrote, via ESPN. “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."

Oklahoma State is now the first school to receive a postseason ban as a result of the FBI investigation — though both Auburn and Arizona implemented postseason bans on themselves last year. Both USC and South Carolina avoided such bans.

That, Boynton said, makes Wednesday’s ruling even more difficult to process.

"There have been some results that have been very different from ours with very similar circumstances involved. And that makes it even more frustrating," Boynton said, via ESPN. "The cases have similar circumstances and the consequences are drastically different. And that's utterly ridiculous."

Oklahoma State athletic director Chad Weisberg was right with his head coach, and called the NCAA’s infractions process “broken.”

"The student-athletes have to be the ones at the center of the decisions that we make," Weiberg said, via ESPN. "If we want to get serious about playing on a level playing field, let's monitor and punish the ones that knowingly break the rules that we have in place, and not student-athletes that were seventh-graders when it happened … We had a rogue employee carrying out actions that benefited him alone and he went to great lengths to assure his actions were undetectable. He was terminated when we learned of his actions.

"We cooperated with the NCAA, expedited the process and received no credit for it. What message is the NCAA sending here? This is further evidence that the NCAA system is broken."

Head coach Mike Boynton of the Oklahoma State Cowboys
The NCAA upheld its postseason ban for Oklahoma State, which came as a result of the massive FBI investigation into college basketball. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos/Getty Images)