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Five Things to Know About OSU’s Plan to Appeal NCAA Ruling on Postseason Ban

Can OSU win this appeal?



Oklahoma State plans to appeal the NCAA decision announced Friday that, in addition to a loss of scholarships, a fine and recruiting restrictions, bans the basketball program from participating in the 2021 postseason. It’s unclear if that effort will be successful — or if a successful appeal verdict will be delivered quickly.

According to the NCAA’s own bylaws — which conveniently pop up with a simple how long do NCAA appeals process take? Google search — the process itself takes months. Yes, plural.

So I did some more digging into the NCAA’s own manual and here’s what I found.

1. Oklahoma State is working on a tight timeline

The verdict was delivered on June 5, and Oklahoma State doesn’t have time to sulk. To file a formal appeal it must be sent by June 20 — meaning OSU has two weeks file that paperwork.

I talked with Tom Dirato on Friday over the radio waves, and in talking with him, I’m convinced this is perhaps a bigger challenge than it sounds. Dirato made it clear: OSU put up one heckuva case. They felt good about it. They knew the stakes here — that a ban would jeopardize Cade Cunningham’s imminent arrival and put a stain on the program. — so they sunk resources into getting this right the first time. Yet the NCAA did not get it right the first time. 

Now they’ve got a two-week timeline on which to operate to file an appeal on that initial case.

2. A timeline for the appeals process

The Infraction Appeals Committee is where OSU’s appeal will fall in the final step of this process before a final verdict is handed down. How long does the appeals process take, exactly? Here’s again what the NCAA has to say on that specific topic.

It varies. The membership-approved process spells out a 110-day timeline, but it may take longer depending on the complexity of the case. The process is designed to be fair and impartial with no rush to judgment. Getting the right answer is what counts most.

So it could be 110 days, because that’s the timeline NCAA members abide by. But the NCAA could decide it needs longer if the case is more complex. They frame it as it may take long but we want to get it right! which is very NCAA of the NCAA.

If it’s 110 days, though, that … [insert cautious optimism] … might … just … work — 110 days from now is September 24, 2020, and 110 days from June 20, the deadline date OSU has to apply, is October 8. The season starts the first week of November.

One could argue that OSU could actually want to have this drag out. That while this appeal is in motion, the initial verdict isn’t final. Therefore, if it is delivered next summer, a postseason ban wouldn’t apply in 2021 even if it were upheld. But because this specific case applies to this season (despite the NCAA typically working slowly), I actually think this will be resolved expediently one way or another.

Boynton was adamant on Friday that he didn’t want any of his incoming players to get screwed. So while it’s unlikely that anything is resolved before it’s time for them to enroll, you can be sure that the ones who stick around go into it with eyes wide open.

3. So will the appeals committee push this case through quickly?

In talking to Dirato, he expressed pessimism that a decision would come soon, reason being they work on their own timeline. Sure, the committee is comprised of only five members, so in theory they could convene quickly and issue their verdict, but according to the NCAA their meeting frequency is not on a set schedule.

“They meet as necessary,” the NCAA says.

We’ll find out how necessary it is to convene to discuss about a team that is bringing in the future No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

4. So what’s OSU’s case to the appeals committee?

So here’s the kicker. One would think that, because the program is appealing, that they can submit new evidence to the appeals committee. You know, make their final case for why a postseason is absolutely ludicrous. But one would be vastly overestimating the NCAA!

OSU can neither start a new hearing nor can they use their first case to add to its existing case. From the NCAA.

The appeal is neither a new hearing nor a second chance to argue the case. The infractions appeals committees do not consider evidence that wasn’t presented to their respective divisional committees on infractions.

This little caveat makes me a little bit less optimistic about OSU winning, even though the infractions committee is a different one that levied the punishment to begin with.

5. What are OSU’s chances of winning?

Finding information on the NCAA’s website is painful and sometimes impossible, but surprisingly, the NCAA provides its own statistics on appeals. Here is data from 2017 and 2018, from their website. It doesn’t spell out the programs involved or the level of violations that were appealed, but these numbers really aren’t great.

Most violations are affirmed and very rarely are penalties vacated.

Screen Shot 2020-06-06 at 4.05.30 PM

However, Oklahoma State remains confident it was outright wronged in this case. If an appeal doesn’t win I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a denied appeal end up in court. There’s really no precedent to a case like this — where one bad apple, acting independent of a program, and not benefitting the program for which he worked for competitively — getting the program he worked for a punishment so severe as a postseason ban. Regardless of how this gets adjudicated, I think OSU has a real shot to win its argument (even if it takes a really long time).

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