STILLWATER — At the end of the 2013-15 Sports Illustrated “Dirty Game” football situation, Oklahoma State got a favorable outcome in part because of Chuck Smrt, president of the Leawood, Kansas-based Compliance Group and a former NCAA director of enforcement.
After Sports Illustrated alleged myriad misconduct had occurred with the Cowboys’ football program, Smrt was hired to oversee OSU’s internal investigation. Ultimately, in 2014, Oklahoma State and the NCAA issued a joint statement that described the Sports Illustrated accusations as having been “fundamentally unfounded.”
OSU wound up with a one-year probation but no scholarship reduction or bowl ban.
The thoroughness of OSU’s Smrt-led investigation “helped get a great result,” the NCAA’s Greg Christopher said at the time.
As a former NCAA enforcement representative, OSU compliance director Kevin Fite also was an asset in the process.
“I think this was really the model of the way the process should work,” Christopher added. “I think the steps that Oklahoma State took from a transparency standpoint should be applauded.”
In 2014, Christopher was the NCAA’s chief hearing officer for the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Today, he chairs that committee (in addition to serving as the Xavier University athletic director). In a few months, on behalf of the NCAA, Christopher will weigh the facts in an OSU basketball matter.
Again, Smrt has been secured by OSU as a consultant.
Resulting from the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, OSU last week received a notice of allegation from the NCAA for a potential Level I violation. Former Cowboy assistant Lamont Evans was accused of knowingly soliciting and receiving benefits to arrange meetings between players and financial advisers in 2016-17.
As the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig explained in his reporting, the NCAA described such activity as having been a “severe breach of conduct.” On the scale of rating violations in college athletics, Level I is the most serious and could result in losses of scholarships.
OSU is alleged to have committed one Level I violation. Two months ago, when Kansas was served its NCAA notice of allegations, there were five Level I basketball charges (including a lack of institutional control).
Evans was hired at OSU in 2016, by then-head coach Brad Underwood, and remained on the Cowboy staff in 2017, after Mike Boynton succeeded Underwood as the head man. Evans, who ultimately was given a three-month prison sentence, also was accused by the NCAA of having given $300 to an OSU player.
After federal charges were directed at Evans in 2017, he was fired by Oklahoma State.
In response to the NCAA’s notice of allegations last week, Oklahoma State released a statement: “... We were relieved to learn that there were no recruiting or other major violations on the part of the institution. There are no allegations involving current student-athletes or coaching staff.
“... The university feels strongly that the bribes were taken for the sole benefit of Mr. Evans, who was terminated within days of the announcement of the charges. The university did not benefit in any way and was considered by the federal government to be the victim of the scheme.”
During an NCAA hearing expected to take place during the spring, Oklahoma State will share the results of its Smrt-driven internal investigation and submit an appeal for a reduction in the violation classification.
“Now, we look forward to getting to the end of the process, which we hope we’re as close to as possible,” Boynton said on Monday. “We think we’re going to be OK in the end.”