OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today sent a four-page letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert, denouncing the punitive, and totally unwarranted, severe punishment of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) men’s basketball program.
In the letter, the attorney general writes that despite the university’s full cooperation throughout the investigation, the NCAA didn’t provide sufficient explanation for such a harsh penalty, even when the governing body admits that the incident involved one corrupt associate basketball coach, who was working independently and without the university’s knowledge.
Attorney General Hunter said harshly punishing universities that cooperate or self-report incidents could cause universities to stonewall future investigations, rather than cooperate.
“The punishment by the NCAA to the OSU men’s basketball program is excessive, is completely unfair and only hurts the student athletes, who have worked their entire lives to play basketball at this level,” Attorney General Hunter said. “In its findings, the NCAA admits that the university had no knowledge or connection to the corrupt act of a lone wolf, and his actions were of no benefit whatsoever to the university. The NCAA’s punishment is unjustifiable, illogical and needs to be re-assessed.”
Among the penalties, the OSU men’s basketball program received a postseason ban for the 2020-21 postseason, a reduction of scholarships and a university-imposed $10,000 fine, plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget.
Read the full list of penalties, here: https://bit.ly/2Za9RIk.
The letter explains that the NCAA admits it found the coach began accepting bribes to steer student athletes to two financial advisors before he was employed by OSU.
“OSU, the Committee argues, completely ‘owns the conduct’ of the coach,” Attorney General Hunter writes. “But this is not how the employer/employee relationship is typically understood to work. Employers are not usually responsible for every wrong employees commit, and especially not at the same level of culpability.”
Prosecutors generally treat favorably organizations that cooperate with investigators, recognizing that such entities are the ones best-positioned to probe corrupt acts of their own employees and assist in investigations and they should be incentivized to help root out such corruption, Attorney General Hunter continues.
The attorney general also found ‘worrisome’ that some aspects of the decision appear to have been copied and pasted from other decision from the NCAA. He cites, for example, on page 18 of the investigation, the NCAA mistakenly labeled the former basketball coach the ‘head track coach’.
Concluding the letter, the attorney general, an Oklahoma State University graduate, admits that while he makes no claim to be a purely disinterested party, it gives him a fierce desire to see corruption rooted out, especially when it involves an authority figure taking advantage of students and their families.
“What concerns me deeply, though, is the level of punishment meted out despite OSU’s full cooperation and without sufficient explanation, punishment that will invariably and negatively affect the school’s innocent student-athletes as much as, if not more than, the leaders and authority figures of the institution.”
To read the letter, click here.