Oklahoma State student Raffi Demirjian was doing what he usually does on Friday mornings: he laid in his bed and worked on his virtual internship from the comfort of his home.
But then his phone started buzzing uncontrollably.
Because these texts came at the same time in such large quantities, Demirjian knew something was wrong.
“I saw some texts come in at first and some GroupMe messages and Snapchats and I’m like ‘what is my phone getting all blown up about?’”, Demirjian said.
“And then ESPN popped up.”
Demirjian clicked on the ESPN app to discover that the NCAA punished the OSU men’s basketball team for actions committed by assistant coach Lamont Evans in 2017. One of these punishments was a postseason ban, meaning Demirjian, an OSU senior, won’t be able to see his favorite team in the NCAA tournament next season.
But Demirjian saw this as an opportunity. He immediately went to change.org and started a petition to lift this postseason ban.
“It’s honestly doing a lot better than I was expecting,” Demirjian said. “I was hoping it would do well, but didn’t really know how it would go.”
In just 24 hours, the petition already has over 4,400 signatures and is well on its way of reaching the 5,000-signature goal. Many signatures have also come from notable OSU figures.
“Guys like Tylan Wallace and Spencer Sanders sharing it on their pages has definitely given it a lot of exposure,” Demirjian said. “I noticed yesterday when Avery Anderson III signed the petition, he left a comment… I thought that was cool because it’s nice to see that the basketball players are seeing this and they obviously care a lot about this so this is a platform for them to share how they feel and share it out and keep getting signatures.”
In addition to wanting current players to share the link out and express their feelings, Demirjian also wants former players to follow suit. He says his “bucket list” signature is a former Cowboy basketball superstar.
“I think Marcus Smart, that’d be the goal,” Demirjian said. “I can’t name a bigger OSU basketball alumnus right now. Marcus Smart would give it the most exposure and also probably be the biggest voice for the program.”
Overall however, Demirjian wants this petition to serve as a means of showcasing OSU’s passionate fanbase and to potentially help the university in the appeal process.
Sign This Please!!!!!! https://t.co/EpjiGqA85w— TheChrisHarrisJr🎒 (@chrisharris_2) June 5, 2020
“If we can get this to 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, 30,000 and coach (Mike) Boynton and athletic director (Mike) Holder take this to the NCAA board of appeals and say ‘hey, look we have a lot of support for this and a lot of people are very upset with you guys,” Demirjian said. “I don’t need this to be the changing factor, but it’s something that I think could be a cool piece to bring along for the appeals case and showing how much support there’s been for the program.”
The petition mentioned in this article can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/ncaa-lift-oklahoma-state-s-basketball-postseason-ban