Marcus Smart's punishment for shoving a fan at the end of Saturday night's game against Texas Tech was announced on Sunday afternoon.
The NCAA suspended the Oklahoma State point guard for three games, as ESPN's Jeff Goodman first reported:
Marcus Smart will be suspended for three games, source told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 9, 2014
Mike Sherman of The Oklahoman revealed the details regarding the three-game ban:
Terms of Marcus Smart's 3-game suspension: prohibited from all team travel and game day activitie, can practice.— MikeSherman (@MikeSherman) February 9, 2014
Troy Machir of Sporting News pointed out that Smart will return just in time for a rematch against Texas Tech:
Of course Oklahoma State plays Texas Tech the first game after Smart's suspension ends. Of course.— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) February 9, 2014
Following the announcement of the suspension, Smart made a statement to the press in which he apologized and took the blame, per FOX Sports' Twitter feed:
Marcus Smart: "I let my emotions get the best of me. This was all upon me. I truly apologize."— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) February 9, 2014
For the uninitiated, here's a look at the incident, courtesy of ESPN:
Texas Tech also provided a different angle of the altercation:
The fan who was on the other end of the shove turned out to be Jeff Orr, a frequent attendant of Red Raiders games, who has been called "Texas Tech's number one fan." In addition to voluntarily agreeing to not attend any more home games this season, Orr issued an apology to Smart, via TexasTech.com:
"I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, Tubby Smith and the Texas Tech Men's Basketball program. My actions last night were inappropriate and do not reflect myself or Texas Tech - a university I love dearly. I regret calling Mr. Smart a "piece of crap" but I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind. Additionally, I would like to offer my apologies to Texas Tech fans that have been embarrassed by the attention this incident has created."
Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford also talked about the suspension on Sunday. He backed up his player, but he also made a rather ominous statement about Smart's punishment, via SportsCenter and Goodman:
"I love Marcus Smart for the person that he is. I know this is going to make him a better person." - Oklahoma St. Head Coach Travis Ford— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 9, 2014
Travis Ford: "He make a mistake, a mistake he's going to pay for, not just in a 3-game suspension."— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 9, 2014
Ford is likely referencing Smart's draft stock.
What do you think of the 3-game suspension?
The talented guard shocked the country when he passed up a sure-fire lottery selection in last year's draft to return to Stillwater, but a rough January and February stretch has delivered a major hit to his stock.
While it would seem an incident like this would only further send that stock into a plummet, not everyone seems as concerned.
Smart discussed the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 19 with ESPN:
One scout, via SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria, is more concerned with Smart's play on the court, while ESPN's Fran Fraschilla noted that this isn't the norm for the standout sophomore:
NBA GM on Smart: 'His play & inability to lead his team to wins is affecting his stock. Not pushing some illiterate drunk redneck.'— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 9, 2014
3-game suspension for Marcus Smart seems fair. Hoping he puts this behind him quickly and finishes season strong. 98% of his resume positive— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) February 9, 2014
The more dire effect will likely fall on Oklahoma State as a team.
Ford's squad started the season 15-2 but has suddenly dropped five of its last six. With the Cowboys' three games without Smart coming at Texas, vs. Oklahoma and at Baylor, they could easily drop to 16-10 and 4-9 in the Big 12 when he returns, which coincidentally enough, will be Feb. 22 against none other than Texas Tech.
It's too early to write off the Cowboys. They have way too much talent and there is still plenty of time in a stacked conference to further bolster their resume. But if things continue to trend in this direction, Smart's last chance at winning over NBA scouts—which is now more important than ever—may come in the NIT.