It is no secret that the NCAA plays by its own rules. It doles out punishments in ways that do not make sense to many who follow college sports. It often acts in ways that are hypocritical and contradictory to maintain a host of myths, including the idea that elite athletes who generate billions of dollars as part of the college sport industrial complex are amateurs. They use the term students to refer to athletes in their member institutions to further mask their status as employees to avoid giving them their fair share of the wealth generated by their labor, names, images, and likenesses. Like many organizations and institutions after the killing of George Floyd, the NCAA engaged in a series of actions aimed at addressing racial inequities in college sports. However, their recent decision regarding the men’s basketball team at Oklahoma State University (OSU) demonstrates that they were not acting in good faith and were instead engaged in a series of performative and symbolic acts.
The treatment of OSU’s men’s basketball, which is led by African American Head Coach Mike Boynton, is unprecedented for Division I basketball and flies in the face of fairness. According to Kevin Sweeny’s November 3, 2021 article in SI.com, OSU was implicated in a 2017 FBI investigation that revealed evidence of illegal actions in recruiting, which involved both fraud and bribery. The NCAA did not approve OSU’s appeal of its decision, reported Sweeny.
Sweeny wrote that African American former assistant coach Lamont Evans, was found to have accepted bribes to influence athletes during the 2016–17 season. Sweeny added that “Evans spent three months in prison in 2019 and received a lengthy 10-year show cause penalty by the NCAA. Evans worked under White former OSU head coach Brad Underwood during the 2016–17 season and was dismissed after the investigation broke in September 2017, before current head coach Mike Boynton ever coached a game for the Cowboys.”
Many people throughout the college sports world decry the NCAA’s decision “because of its perceived unfairness relative to other programs implicated in the bribery scandal. South Carolina, where Evans worked as an assistant coach prior to his time at OSU, received two years of probation and minor recruiting penalties,” added Sweeny.
We believe the punishment does not fit because there’s no evidence of academic fraud, no ineligible players competed, there was no lack of institutional control, no failure to monitor, no recruiting violations and no head coach involvement and/or knowledge.
As a result, the preseason Top 25 team that Coach Boynton assembled must face a 2022 playoff season ban for infractions that happened more than five years ago. The ban may be one of the only in the entire history of the NCAA where a member institution has received such a harsh punishment without being cited for one of the five most egregious violations. These violations are academic dishonesty, an absence of institution control, irresponsibility on the part of a head coach, recruitment violations, and institutional failure to monitor.
It is documented that the NCAA does not have a history of advocating for the recruitment and retention of Black coaches at its member institutions. Their most recent decision involving OSU is further evidence that Black coaches’ lives and the lives of their predominately Black men players do not matter. As is the case in the broader society, not surprisingly Black men receive unequal and inequitable treatment relative to other racial groups in member institutions or by the entire Association. The list of institutions with proven and suspected infractions contains the names of many White assistant and head coaches who either escape punishment altogether or are treated less harshly than Black assistant and head coaches and shown far more leniency.
“We cannot afford to look the other way when there is clear and convincing evidence that individuals and organizations are treating Black coaches in ways they would never think to treat White coaches for offenses they did commit… let alone for offenses that happened years before they ever took the helm of an elite program,” commented Gary Charles, president and founder of ABIS, Inc., a nonprofit organization aimed at addressing racial inequities in sports.
“Coach Boynton showed what Black coaches can accomplish when simply given the opportunity to do so. He should not pay for the sins of a White coach who essentially received a slap on the wrist. The potential damage to Coach Boynton’s career and overall well-being is incalculable. The timing of the decision also means that Boynton’s players cannot exercise their right to enter the transfer portal, a right enjoyed by other college athletes,” noted Charles.
“The NCAA must be called out for their continued mistreatment of Black coaches and Black athletes. The unequal treatment experienced by Black coaches and Black players must end. The NCAA can do better, and we must hold them accountable,” said Charles.
Source: https://www.si.com/college/2021/11/03/ncaa-rejects-oklahoma-state-appeal-postseason-ban Kevin Sweeny, Febuary 9, 2022