Isaac Likekele

Isaac Likekele is returning for his junior season at Oklahoma State. (DEVIN LAWRENCE WILBER/for the Tulsa World)

It’s been a month since Oklahoma State men’s basketball was hit with NCAA sanctions that included a one-year postseason ban, but the appeals process is far from over.

According to an NCAA breakdown, the appeal could take over 220 days to resolve. Emily James, NCAA associate director of communications, said parties can also request for their filing deadlines to be extended.

June 20 was the deadline for Oklahoma State to file an immediate appeal against the penalties that stemmed from a two-year FBI investigation into college basketball that implicated now-former associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Lamont Evans.

Athletic director Mike Holder briefly spoke about the appeal during last week’s Zoom conference meant to discuss OSU’s internal review into the football program.

“We have filed our appeal and then we have read our 30-day period to put together the justification for our appeal,” Holder said. “That’s ongoing. We have the best people on our side and we feel like we’ve been wronged and we want that appeals committee to agree with us so we’re going to make a great argument.”

The Cowboys aren’t questioning the findings of Evans’ actions but feel the postseason ban is too harsh. The Cowboys feel pretty confident in their ability to win the appeal. The Infractions Appeals Committee members are James Madison University president Jonathan Alger, attorney W. Anthony Jenkins, American Athletic Conference associate commissioner, Ellen M. Ferris, Princeton senior associate director of athletics Allison Rich and Georgia law professor and athletics representative David Shipley.

Recent history shows that OSU could be facing an uphill battle. Seventeen combined penalties were appealed in 2017 and 2018. According to information provided by the NCAA, only three of those were vacated and one was remanded.

An NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee document shows how Ole Miss football was hit with multiple sanctions in 2017 and filed its notice of appeal on Dec. 15, 2017.

The biggest penalty that came down on Ole Miss was the postseason ban, but the Rebels managed to successfully appeal the recruiting restrictions put on the program by claiming the committee “abused its discretion in prescribing penalties.” That decision was announced on Nov. 1, 2018, nearly a year after the initial sanctions were released.

If that same timeline were to play out for Oklahoma State, the Cowboys would still be able to compete in the NCAA Tournament this upcoming season, no matter the outcome of the appeal. That means Cade Cunningham, the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, would still have a chance to represent OSU in the postseason.

Cunningham is expected to enter the NBA draft after just one year in Stillwater. Although pushing the penalty back a season wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for OSU, the Cowboys are focused on trying to dodge the penalty completely by winning the appeal.

OSU has 30 days following its immediate notice to file a written appeal, according to the NCAA appeals diagram. The committee of infractions has 30 days after that to respond to the written appeal. OSU has a 14-day deadline to file a rebuttal to the committee’s response. The enforcement staff will then review and identify any factual errors in the materials and the appellant response is due all within the next 20 days.

An oral argument in front of the committee should take place in the next month or two and the committee should release its report in the following 6-8 weeks, according to the diagram.

“An appeal is not a new hearing that provides a second chance to argue the case,” James said in an email to the Tulsa World. “The Infractions Appeals Committee will affirm, vacate or remand decisions of the Committee on Infractions involving Level I or Level II violations, only if the institution/involved individuals can show one or more of the following grounds:

• A factual finding is clearly contrary to the evidence presented to the Committee on Infractions panel.

• The facts found by the Committee on Infractions panel do not constitute a violation of the NCAA constitution and bylaws.

• There was a procedural error, and but for the error, the Committee on Infractions panel would not have made the finding or conclusion.

• Or, in prescribing a penalty, the Committee on Infractions panel abused its discretion.

The appeals process is in the early stage for OSU, but it will have to prove one of these four issues to overturn the postseason ban.


Frank Bonner II 918-581-8387

frank.bonner@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: Frank_Bonner2