Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart has created quite a stir after his decision to shove a fan at the tail end of Saturday night’s contest against Texas Tech. The push may result in a punishment now that the conference is investigating the incident.
As announced on the Big 12’s official Twitter feed, the conference is invoking its sportsmanship policy to conduct a review of the incident:
Here is video of the shove in question, courtesy of ESPN:
According to Krista Pirtle of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the Big 12 is expected to make a decision on Smart’s fate at some point Sunday.
Per Pirtle, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby is currently in Sochi, Russia, as part of his responsibilities as a member of the USOC Board of Directors, but he has been notified of the event and will be involved in the decision-making process.
According to ESPN.com, Smart explained to the Pokes coaching staff that he shoved the fan, later identified by John Helsley of The Oklahoman as Jeff Orr, because he used a racial slur in reference to the sophomore guard.
Orr admitted that he said something he shouldn’t have to provoke Smart, according to a screenshot of a text message conversation acquired by Doug Gottlieb of CBS:
However, Orr clarified that it was not a racial or vulgar slur that got under the Pokes star’s skin, per Gottlieb:
ESPN noted that Bowlsby could elect to do something as minor as reprimand Smart in private, but also has the option of a public reprimand and suspension to consider.
Smart was not ejected from the game, as Big 12 coordinator of officials Curtis Shaw told ESPN that there is no rule in place that allows a referee to remove a player for contact with a fan. Shaw also mentioned that the officials weren’t aware of what Orr might have said:
There is no precedent for that. Our rules are for flagrant 1 or 2. We don't have grounds for dealing with a fan. We don't have a rule to get involved when the player is involved with a fan. We don't know what was said. The official, Doug Sirmons, didn't know what was said.
It may take some time for the conference to get to the bottom of the incident, but it is worth it for the Big 12 to explore all options and figure out a proper course of action to set precedent with this troubling case.
Oklahoma State lost the game to the Red Raiders, 65-61, pushing the team’s losing streak to four contests. The Pokes have a brutal stretch of Big 12 play upcoming and would be hard-pressed to win these matchups and snap their string of defeats without Smart in the lineup.
OSU travels to Austin to play No. 15 Texas on Tuesday, followed by No. 21 Oklahoma coming to Stillwater on Saturday.
It remains to be seen if the Big 12 will allow Smart to play in either of these contests due to his actions against TTU.