When Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton woke up Friday morning, he didn’t expect to call anyone to deliver shocking news.
But, as with many things in his career thus far, things didn’t go according to plan.
Boynton was tasked with telling his players, none of whom were affiliated with the university at all in 2017, that the NCAA was punishing OSU for Lamont Evans’ actions during his time at the school-- with one of the penalties resulting in a one-year postseason ban.
“I made a great effort when I got the news this morning to call every single player on our roster-- returning and incoming,” Boynton said. “And there’s obviously a little bit of confusion and concern on their part, and rightfully so.”
As someone who prides himself on being a hands-on recruiter, Boynton had a difficult time making these calls.
“Most of them know me really well because I personally recruited most of them myself so to have that conversation with them and tell them that next season could look a lot different than they anticipated wasn’t easy.”
In addition to sorrow, these phone calls also raised curiosity levels-- especially regarding the nation’s top recruit Cade Cunningham.
“For Cade… we're going to do everything we can to support him just like we will all the other guys,” Boynton said. “Whatever the best option for (Cade), we're going to support 100% without any reservations.”
But overall, the reasoning behind these calls this morning left Boynton and company with frustration and anger. Boynton’s been OSU’s coach since 2017 and has dealt with multiple players being kicked off the team, missing the NCAA tournament by a small margin during his first season and now an investigation that will leave him out of next season’s March Madness for something he didn’t have a role in.
“My name isn’t mentioned one time in this report at any given time in the last three years,” Boynton said. “My name has never come up in any of this stuff. So I was thoroughly disappointed with the way the NCAA decided to hand out penalties that will certainly impact people’s lives who had absolutely nothing to do with this case.”
This decision is also another disappointment in 2020 for OSU athletic director Mike Holder. In recent months, Holder has dealt with the cancellations of the spring athletic season, the opening of a $60 million baseball stadium and the NCAA tennis national championships, which was slated to take place in Stillwater in May.
“2020 hasn’t had a great start,” Holder said. “We're almost to the halfway point. My hopes and prayers are that the last half of 2020 are a whole lot better than the first half.”
People outside of the OSU realm-- even some of the most prominent names in college basketball-- are reacting to this negatively as well.
“There’s kids that have no involvement at all (in the situation),” ESPN’s Dick Vitale told the O’Colly. “Cade Cunningham and those kids and they get penalized. This is a dream of players to play in the tournament. I wish there was a better way of handling it.”