Attorney General Mike Hunter

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter waits to speak during a press conference announcing plans for Oklahoma to resume executions by lethal injection, at the Office of the Attorney General, 313 NE 21, in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma attorney general Mike Hunter sent a four-page letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert disagreeing with the penalties handed down to the Oklahoma State basketball program, Hunter’s office said in a release Friday.

In the release, Hunter, an OSU alum, pointed out OSU fully cooperated in the investigation and claimed 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.”

Former associate head coach Lamont Evans was sentenced to three months in prison in June of 2019 after being implicated in the FBI bribery and corruption investigation.

“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,” Hunter said in the statement. “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.”

Hunter’s letter points out Evans began accepting bribes to steer student athletes to two financial advisors before working at OSU.

“OSU, the Committee argues, completely ‘owns the conduct’ of the coach,” Hunter said in the statement. “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.”

The release stated Hunter found it “worrisome” certain parts of the decision appeared to have been copied and pasted.

“He cites, for example, on page 18 of the investigation, the NCAA mistakenly labeled the former basketball coach the head track coach,” the statement said.

Hunter didn’t hide his ties to OSU as a graduate.

“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,” the statement said.

Frank Bonner II

918-581-8387

frank.bonner@tulsaworld.com

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Sports Writer

Frank joined Tulsa World as the Oklahoma State University sports writer in June 2019. He is an Indiana native who attended graduate school at IUPUI after receiving his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University. 918-581-8387