The Lamont Evans news clouds what was already going to be a tough season for the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team.
Now, there might not even be a season if the allegations from the FBI are as far-reaching as they seem. Yep, the same guys who brought down Capone now have the Cowboys on their wanted list because of the associate head coach, who is now suspended with pay.
I know Evans is one of only four coaches charged with fraud and corruption, but they are the only ones the FBI had dead to rights at this moment – with audio and video evidence – and there are plenty more to come.
This isn’t just another NCAA suspension or slap of the wrist, because the NCAA until Tuesday had nothing to do with this. For the FBI, there aren’t any suspensions, scholarship reductions or win redactions. There is just prison time.
Evans being part of the first four coaches either shows how implicit he was within the dark underbelly of college recruiting, or it shows that he was just a guy who slipped up and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. However, though Evans is the one charged, OSU coach Mike Boynton is the one with the spotlight on him.
Over the next weeks, months and possibly years, if Boynton is found to have no knowledge of Evans’ actions, he will still be hounded for the rest of his legacy.
Every recruiting trip he goes on will be monitored, every coach he hires will have to go through a tenuous screening process and if he gets a high-level recruit, the questions will never stop.
For a man that was going to have a hard time winning over the Cowboy fan base anyway, it just got seemingly impossible. In a legacy already sullied by his predecessor Brad Underwood, who could have possibly known of Evans’ misdeeds as well, Boynton looks like he is in a hole that he will never get out of. Plus, the fact that he still hadn’t signed his contract as of Tuesday adds even more questions.
On the court, players will have to deal with the media questioning about bribes and for the players mentioned, but not named, in the court documents, they will be walking the finest of lines.
The player mentioned to have been pressured by Evans to go to the NBA and sign with the agency that was paying off Evans will be looked at hard by the NCAA now. If you think Dez Bryant was given a raw deal for talking to Deion Sanders (which he was), then whoever the player is, they are on tape talking to this agent and it becomes a case of what went down in this meeting?
Looking at the NCAA website, talking to an agent is fine as a player, but if he made an oral or written agreement with him – either directly, or through Evans – then he is ineligible. If he accepts any benefits from an agent, prospective agent or any individual acting on behalf of the agent, then he is ineligible.
If either happened, that’s one player gone.
For the recruit whose mother was offered money, if she took it, then he is done as well. That is if the recruit came to OSU.
Whatever scrutiny the OSU men’s basketball program was under for getting wins from the local media, now it will be getting national media coming to see if it is doing things the right way.
How many players want to stay with the Cowboys if they are constantly being looked at or second-guessed? Who knows?
Now that Evans has had his laundry out to dry, it casts a black mark across all of OSU and a program that has had to deal with multiple setbacks, now might have the biggest one of all.
Because the NCAA is now involved, who is to say that if there are multiple cases of corruption taking place at OSU, the Cowboys shouldn’t get the death penalty that happened to SMU three decades ago?
I don’t wish that to happen, but if Evans was already involved with all of this, who knows how far it goes? It could just end with him, it could tie him to Underwood, and his former employer and now current South Carolina coach Frank Martin. Boynton, the man who called Evans his “brother ... and co-coach” at his introductory press conference, might know about it.
If that happens, then OSU is in serious trouble. And if Boynton didn’t know, then he still might be in some trouble.
Back in 2013 during the University of Miami scandal involving booster Nevin Shapiro, the university got hit with a blanket “lack of institutional control” penalty, although a majority of the administrators had no knowledge of the event.
So if Boynton has no knowledge of Evans’ bribes, than the NCAA could still give OSU a serious “lack of institutional control” hit if it deems it necessary. That could also extend to Martin and Underwood.
OSU might not be the only one which is turned over and searched by the FBI and NCAA, but it is now still part of these raids because of Evans.
Although Evans could have been a lone wolf, the coming days and weeks are not going to look pretty if it turns out he didn’t act alone. It will be like the end of “The Wolf of Wall Street” when Jordan Belfort flips over his accomplices and everyone goes down with him. Documents will be turned over, coaches who were accomplices will be forced out, and ones who took bribes like Evans will go to prison.
However, the real victims will be the players and fans who believed in these guys only to see their trust betrayed.
I hope that doesn’t happen, but no one knew until Tuesday about Evans, not even the NCAA. Now that the FBI has “the playbook” for catching the corruption in college basketball, who knows how far up at OSU and every university in the country it goes?
All you have to do is follow the money.