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Mike Boynton Doing ‘Great’ Through Potentially Crippling Scandal Surrounding OSU Basketball



KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Every morning at 5:30 a.m., Mike Boynton wakes up and goes to the gym. He starts his workout at 6, works on cardio, some light weights and cross training. For those two hours, no one talks to him. He is completely alone, and the FBI investigation that has surrounded him fades to black.

“That’s usually a good time for me to work out, think or whatever,” he said. “Sometimes the hardest time I have is between 9 and 4.”

Mr. Boynton has a wife and two children under 6 years old. His job as coach of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball program keeps him busy — so busy he still hasn’t even signed his contract — but when he has the chance, he takes his kids to school. He admitted he probably hasn’t picked them up five times because of his job, but he tries, and when he can, he will.

When he isn’t on the road trying to get players to commit to play for his basketball team, he works out at home on his elliptical machine, so he doesn’t waste any time. He said getting into that routine has helped through losing his “brother” Lamont Evans to corruption and bribery charges. He said his wife has helped, too.

“She is the reason that it works, all of it, 100 percent,” Boynton said. “Because she keeps things sane at home.”

He has his first competitive game as a head coach coming up in a little more than two weeks against Pepperdine in Gallagher-Iba Arena back in Stillwater, but Tuesday, he was in Kansas City, Missouri, talking with reporters about his mental state since the FBI and Department of Justice levied program-changing and potentially life-changing allegations against a man he trusted with both.

“I’m doing great,” Boynton said. “I’m not going through anything. I’ve been faced with challenges throughout my life. I’ve been able to focus on the things I have to do every day, and all I have to do is try to have a good attitude, be there for my kids.”

That includes the players on his roster, too, of course. Jeffrey Carroll, probably Boynton’s best player, and Mitchell Solomon, probably his most loyal, were at the Sprint Center with him Tuesday as well.

OSU is still keeping the training wheels on with players regarding the FBI probe, and rightfully and responsibly so, but Boynton fielded the questions with grace. Like a human.

He reads a lot. He is aware of almost everything everyone is saying. When he was hired, hundreds if not thousands of Cowboy basketball fans went to Twitter to express their displeasure with Boynton’s hire because of his lack of coaching experience. Boynton saw it. After the findings of the investigation were released, Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World wrote about how Boynton’s future as coach – whether retained or fired – was going to dictate and ultimately characterize how OSU handled the probe. Boynton read it.

“I never thought about my job,” he said. “Not once. … It’s not important. The first thing I did was come back to campus to get with my players.”

There was nothing he or they could do. Their word wasn’t going to be accepted. It was unfortunate, but they weren’t in a position of any power. Save basketball. They had camp about a week away, so they went to work. Boynton told them not to waste the opportunity to improve while focusing on the investigation, something that was out of their hands.

Boynton’s boss, athletic director Mike Holder, did the same thing. They spoke soon after the findings came out but not about the plan. They talked about the basketball. There was no formal plan because there was nothing they could do. The circumstances around the program changed, but the program itself did not.

Boynton has always been that way, to be aware but not hyperaware and active but not unnecessarily. In his first news conference after the charges were filed, Boynton said he has always dealt with distractions and problems and had to find ways to acknowledge both but dwell on neither.

“I was 5 years old when I expected a little boy to come home and be my little brother,” he said. “And he never came home.

“I still had to live as a 5-year-old. I was disappointed that it happened. I was excited about it, but my life wasn’t over.”

So now here is basketball. Here is his opportunity to prove those post-hire doubters wrong, to get help from another Sutton to win games on his dad’s court, to show the country that this distraction won’t stop Cowboy basketball.

The opportunity has always been there. It is neither amplified nor serves as a crutch in case Boynton’s first few games don’t go well. He said he doesn’t want to prove himself because there isn’t anyone to prove himself to. He could focus on the naysayers and his team’s last-place rank in the Big 12 preseason poll, but he chooses to “focus on the people that believe.”

“I’m not motivated by anything outside of just trying to be the best,” he said. “I don’t need someone to do something or say something. … I want to win because I’d rather win than lose, not because someone said I was gonna lose.”

The last six weeks don’t make it any more important that Nov. 10 ends in an OSU win. He knows he can’t graduate all of his players but win no games and expect to keep his job. He also has to know trust is preeminent. Those people who believe start with the guys in the locker room. He had one bad egg, at least to this point in the FBI’s findings. But again, he said that hasn’t made him appreciate the game any more than he already did.

He still wakes up at 5:30 every morning, is in the gym by 6, out by 8 and off to work by 9. He still takes his kids to school when he can and leans on his “rock solid” wife to do it for him. Then he takes that to his program.

“It’s reaffirmed some of the things I believed about developing people and making sure you are a person who practices what you preach,” Boynton said.

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