LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An NCAA infractions committee panel announced Friday that former Oklahoma State assistant men’s basketball coach Lamont Evans violated ethical-conduct rules by accepting up to $22,000 in bribes from financial advisers.
So what does that mean for the University of Louisville? Assistant coaches at Louisville alleged to have given money to a recruit’s family, even being in the room when the scheme was discussed (and, unfortunately for them, being caught by FBI surveillance). The university escaped the most serious Level I violations, but since it's already on probation, the rule book changes.
WDRB Sports Columnists' Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford break down what the OSU punishment means for the Cardinals going forward:
Bozich: The NCAA Committee on Infractions punished the Oklahoma State men’s basketball program Friday — and a chill washed over Kansas, North Carolina State, Auburn, Louisiana State, Arizona and the other programs that have been mentioned in the “Pay for Play” scandal that shook the game in 2017.
That, of course, includes the University of Louisville.
Locally, one question percolated immediately after the strong Oklahoma State penalties were announced:
If OSU got three years of probation, an NCAA Tournament post-season ban for 2020-21, scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, a fine and other penalties, what does that mean for Louisville, which received its notice of allegations last month?
This is not a great answer, but it’s an honest answer:
I don’t know.
Neither does anybody else. It’s risky trying to forecast how the NCAA will punish one program off the results of how it punished another program.
It’s difficult interpreting this as encouraging news for the resolution of Louisville’s case. I understand the folks who have already translated this into a one- or two-year tournament ban for the Cardinals.
It’s too soon. There is rarely a straight line or direct connection between cases.
Every school employs a different strategy and defense team. The NCAA rarely speaks with one voice or a consistent tone. It’s one reason everybody howls at the NCAA.
The Oklahoma State penalties were the result of a Level I violation allegedly made by former assistant coach Lamont Evans, who reportedly accepted between $18,150 and $22,000 in bribes to steer players to agents or financial advisors.
That is not what happened at Louisville.
The U of L program earned a notice of its single Level I violation for the program’s recruiting of Brian Bowen as well as three Level II violations. Louisville was also tagged with failing to adequately monitor the recruitment of an incoming, high-profile player.
Louisville, unlike Oklahoma State, bounced its athletic director and entire basketball coaching staff. In fact, you could argue the U of L administration was more pro-active than any school mentioned in the “Play for Play,” drama.
But Louisville, unlike Oklahoma State, is also a repeat offender, a program alleged to have broken the rules while on NCAA probation.
Being charged with cheating while on probation remains a more significant concern for Louisville than any comparison to what happened at Oklahoma State.
That is the issue Louisville will have to clear as it moves forward.
Crawford: It’s always dangerous to infer that NCAA penalties for one school would mean similar penalties for another. But one Oklahoma State penalty seems pertinent when looking at its resolution against what Louisville might expect.
The allegation was a single Level I violation against then-associate head coach Lamont Evans for accepting bribes to steer players toward financial advisors Marty Blazer and Munish Sood. Evans pled guilty to bribery in January 2019, but cooperated in no way with the NCAA investigation.
The NCAA’s committee on infractions slapped Evans with a 10-year show cause, and hit Oklahoma State with a one-year postseason ban and financial and recruiting sanctions, citing a history of NCAA issues going back a number of years. It called the one-year ban a “standard” penalty for a Level I violation. OSU did not argue the facts of the case but did contest the “Level I” designation.
The Committee on Infractions did not agree. In Louisville’s case, some of the same distinctions are being made, but there are some differences. Its former assistant coaches have cooperated with the NCAA to some degree. And the coaches themselves are facing Level 2 violations, not Level 1. The school, however, is facing a Level I violation, and is a repeat offender, having just finished the penalty phase of the Katina Powell sex-for-recruits scandal when the alleged wrong doing in these allegations was going on.
Bottom line: OSU getting a one-year postseason ban from the NCAA makes it difficult to believe that Louisville can escape at least that, and could face worse, given the repeat-offender issue. OSU cooperated with the NCAA. It went through the traditional infractions process. And it still wound up with a postseason ban. OSU may still appeal.
Louisville officials are watching closely the developments with Kansas and N.C. State, which are going through the new Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which involves outside parties looking at the case to come to a final resolution that is not subject to appeal. The school has not yet decided which route it will take.
That could well be a fateful decision, as the school attempts to navigate a second national NCAA scandal in five years.
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