Amid an FBI investigation that has directly impacted his program, Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton broke his silence on Thursday about the state of OSU basketball and why he waited nine days after one of his assistant coaches was arrested before speaking publicly on the matter.
Former Cowboys assistant Lamont Evans, who was promoted to associate head coach by Boynton in the spring, was fired with cause last week after allegations by the FBI linked Evans to a widespread investigation of fraud and bribery in college basketball recruiting. Evans was one of four college assistants charged in the case.
Boynton said he's following the leadership and counsel of his athletic director and university president. That's why he had not made any public comments until Thursday, when Boynton said he has no reason to believe his job is in jeopardy.
"I'm following the lead of my administration here, and this was the first time we were made available," Boynton told CBS Sports. "I haven't really thought about my job status, to be perfectly honest. I'm really focused on the team. I haven't been given any reason [to worry] about that."
Every player on Oklahoma State's roster was eligible to participate in Cowboys practice Thursday. In terms of any potential issues with current players, the program is following the lead of the U.S. Attorney's Office out of New York City, Boynton said. As of now, everyone on the roster is in the clear. The university has begun the process of conducting an independent formal review with its men's basketball program as well.
"We haven't been given any information to indicate otherwise," Boynton said in regard to any issues of player eligibility.
Of the four programs who had an assistant coach charged in the FBI's widespread probe (Arizona, USC, Auburn and Oklahoma State), Boynton was the last head coach to grant an interview or issue a public statement on the matter. He told CBS Sports his players do not have a timetable for when they will meet with the media, but a select group of players will likely be made available to local media "in the next week or so."
"The biggest thing for me today, to be honest, is having an opportunity to start talking about our season," Boynton said. "But clearly this thing is going on around our program, being associated with things going around the country that are a little bit too distracting right now to that process. For people asking or wanting to know, I was shocked and found out just like everybody else did: reading it on the Internet. And as far as any timeline specific to the investigation, I don't have any comments and I can't speak to that specifically."
Boynton was on a recruiting trip to Dallas the day the news broke. He landed to a flurry of text messages and promptly booked a flight right back to Oklahoma. With Evans fired, Boynton has moved Keiton Page, OSU's assistant director of player development, into a de facto assistant coach role for the time being. It's not known if Page will remain in that role for the entire season.
"Too early too tell," Boynton said. "We haven't been able to dive into that process yet."
Boynton said he hasn't spoken with Evans since the story broke. Evans was the last to be formally charged in the case; he turned himself in nearly 24 hours after the FBI went public with its investigation.
"I never had any suspicions," Boynton said of Evans' alleged illegal activity when he spoke to local media prior to OSU practice.
Oklahoma State basketball coach Mike Boynton said he was stunned by the allegations against assistant Lamont Evans pic.twitter.com/UBkw6t5D6s— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 5, 2017
The 35-year-old Boynton is entering his first season as a head coach. He spent last season, and the previous three years, as an assistant under Brad Underwood. Illinois lured Underwood away from Oklahoma State in the spring, after Underwood took the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament.