Oklahoma State University’s men’s basketball team is banned from participating in the 2020-21 postseason. It is probably the toughest penalty that the school received on June 5 after the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions determined that a former basketball associate head coach at the school violated NCAA ethical conduct rules by accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from a couple of financial advisors.
The public infractions decision was made public in a 27-page document, which also included discipline on the university’s athletic department by way of a three-year probation, a reduction of men’s basketball scholarships through the 2022-23 academic years, a $10,000 fine plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget, as well as other penalties. The former basketball associate head coach, Lamont Evans, also received a 10-year show-cause order, which means that if Evans is hired by a program, the school will be required to show cause as to why Evans should not be restricted from any athletically related duties. Many believe that this means Evans will be precluded from coaching college basketball players for at least the next 10 years and likely for the rest of his life.
Evans was arrested in September 2017 for allegedly accepting the aforementioned cash bribes in exchange for a promise to persuade college basketball players to retain certain financial advisors when the players ultimately became professionals. Testimony elicited in the judicial proceedings indicated that the financial advisors paid Evans roughly $2,000 per month for some time as part of the scheme.
Additionally, meetings were allegedly set up by Evans in an effort to connect certain basketball players with the financial advisors. The public infractions decision highlights a meeting that was set up between an Oklahoma State basketball player and one of the financial advisors as well as another meeting between the other advisor and a family member of a college basketball player, not affiliated with Oklahoma State, who had declared for the NBA Draft.
NCAA rules prohibit athletics department staff members, including an associate head coach, from receiving benefits in exchange for facilitating or arranging a meeting between a college athletes and a financial advisor.
“As the associate head coach admitted in his sentencing hearing, he abused this trust for his own personal gain,” states the public infractions decision. “He sold access to student-athletes and used his position as a coach and mentor to steer them toward a career decision — retaining the financial advisors’ services — that would financially benefit him. In short, he put his interests ahead of theirs.”
The deadline for Oklahoma State to file an appeal of the decision is June 20. The school has indicated that it is “stunned by the severity of the penalties and strongly disagrees with them” and that it will file an immediate appeal of the penalties. Thereafter, the appeal will be heard by the NCAA’s Infractions Appeal Committee and, if upheld, Oklahoma State will need to bear the consequences of the acts of its prior associate head coach.
Darren Heitner is the founder of Heitner Legal. He is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @DarrenHeitner.