Oklahoma State holding Big 12's leading returning scorer out during investigation

It's hard to imagine a worse start to the season for Oklahoma State.

The school announced hours before tipoff for its season-opener vs. Pepperdine on Friday that it is withholding its best player from competition, Jeffrey Carroll, pending an ongoing review of the program in the wake of the FBI's probe into corruption within the sport. As Mark Cooper of the Tulsa World noted, the ongoing review is in reference to the school's investigation being carried out by The Compliance Group, led by Chuck Smrt, which was hired in October.

Smrt's group was hired shortly after OSU associate head coach Lamont Evans was implicated for corruption within the sport. He has been accused of accepting at least $22,000 in bribe money to "exert his influence over certain student athletes" at Oklahoma State and his previous employer, South Carolina. He has since been relieved of his duties at the school.

Carroll, the leading returning scorer in the Big 12, wasn't specifically named in the DOJ's reporting released earlier this fall. However, Carroll is believed to be "Player-4" in the documents, which state that "Player-4" took a meeting with a financial advisor arranged by his former coach Lamont Evans. It's unclear, however, if he committed any NCAA violations based off the DOJ document released.

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It gets worse for OSU, too. Carroll being withheld gives new coach Mike Boynton just eight scholarship players available in the season-opener on Friday night, as Davon Dillard and Zach Dawson are serving indefinite suspensions for team rules violations. Michael Weathers and Yankuba Sima are sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.

Carroll averaged 17.5 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Cowboys last season, and figured to be not only the best player for OSU, but one of the better scorers in the conference. With him out indefinitely pending the completion of the review, however, OSU will now rely heavily on graduate transfer point guard Kendall Smith and sophomore Lindy Waters to take over the brunt of scoring duties.

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