Death Penalty Looming For Oklahoma Basketball?

Marcus ShockleyCorrespondent IMay 30, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Head coach Jeff Capel of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on from the sideline in the first half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first round game of the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 10, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Recently, it became known that the NCAA was investigating the Oklahoma men's basketball program over the involvement of two players and a cash payment from a financial advisor in Florida.

The players, Tiny Gallon and Willie Warren have both entered the 2010 draft, leaving the coaching staff to wait and see if the NCAA decides to hammer the program. 

CBS writer Gregg Doyel sheds the harsh light of reality on the Oklahoma program, and it's not pretty. The cold hard facts are that this is not the first violation for Oklahoma. The current coaching staff took over from Kelvin Sampson's tenure already saddled with heavy sanctions:

"Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson makes a mockery of NCAA rules by teaming with his coaching staff to make almost 600 illegal recruiting phone calls. The OU compliance department lets it happen. Doesn't have a clue what's going on."

Doyel goes on to suggest that in cases like this, the NCAA by it's own rules would be well within their expected options to place the 'death penalty' on Oklahoma basketball, which would mean no more basketball in Norman, at least for some time.

Doyel's article raises an interesting point—If Oklahoma basketball doesn't deserve to get the death penalty, and, in a corollary example, USC also doesn't, which program will?

It's likely the NCAA has no intention of ever handing out the death penalty after placing the SMU football program under it in 1986, which decimated the program.

The 'death penalty' option is now seen as a 'nuclear option', in that the SMU program, which was a college football juggernaut, did not return to a college bowl game in 2009.

However, it should be pointed out that SMU's football program had no right to be allowed to compete by the NCAA rules, and since they were repeatedly caught breaking the rules, the idea that the NCAA somehow treated them unfairly is laughable. 

They weren't really a storied program, they were a program that cheated to win, many times, and they got caught. 

USC's football and basketball programs have already been caught multiple times, although not as many as SMU, but are more of an example of what the NCAA should be preventing, at least if they are going to continue to maintain that college athletes should not be paid.

The allegations against Oklahoma basketball are equally damning, but at this point, they are still just allegations.

It remains to be seen how serious the NCAA is about keeping programs from breaking the rules. If the NCAA does not start placing heavy disciplinary action on these types of violations, they are communicating to the rest of the programs that getting caught is not something to be afraid of.



Marcus Shockley writes for and is the founder of

His latest project is MassCast.TV , which is an online platform where scouts, AAU, high school teams and others can broadcast their games online.