STILLWATER — About six minutes into his postgame news conference Friday night, Mike Boynton showed reporters a piece of paper he had printed out.
Boynton’s Oklahoma State basketball team had just beaten Central Oklahoma 76-68 in exhibition play, but the bigger story of the night was the fallout following the NCAA’s decision to uphold the program’s postseason ban. The paper Boynton brought was an article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch about how James Madison University athletic teams would be ineligible to compete for Colonial Athletic Association championships if JMU accepted an invitation to another conference.
News came out Saturday that JMU had accepted an invite to join the Sun Belt.
It’s pertinent to Boynton and OSU because there are some similarities in circumstance for student-athletes and OSU and JMU. It isn’t the student-athletes’ fault in either case that this happened. No one on OSU’s roster was in Stillwater when Lamont Evans took bribery money to steer players to advisers, and JMU’s student-athletes didn’t go through the process of leaving the CAA for the Sunbelt.
But there was a deeper meaning to Boynton looking at the JMU case specifically.
JMU president Jonathan Alger was quoted in a join statement with athletic director Jeff Bourne in saying, “In an era when the industry of college athletics stresses student-athlete welfare, this decision is completely contrary to those ideals.”
Alger was on the appeals committee that ruled on OSU’s case.
“I 1,000% agree with that [statement], too,” Boynton said. “I think the student-athletes at James Madison deserve better from leadership. I think they should go to their leaders on campus and ask, ‘How do we get this right? What do we do better?’ Maybe our athletes can go with them. I think the person that was speaking on that second quote may have some information about how those decisions were made.
“If the importance of student-athlete welfare is of significance at James Madison, I think it should be at Oklahoma State, as well, because I want to see all student-athletes have a fair opportunity to have success. So, I don’t disagree with either one of those statements. I think the student-athletes at James Madison deserve better, but I think the student-athletes at Oklahoma State deserve much better also.”
Alger was one of the 16 names of NCAA officials that Boynton dropped at Wednesday’s news conference, saying the process included a “circular game of unaccountability,” where the decision makers from the NCAA didn’t have to answer questions about their decisions. Despite calling out those officials and inviting them to speak with his team, Boynton said Friday night that none had reached out to him.
“I haven’t heard from any of them,” Boynton said. “I don’t expect to hear from any of them. Accountability is a big deal to me. And if they feel strongly that their decision was the right one, I think they should be able to stand up and say that they do feel that way and maybe answer why.”
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