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Oklahoma State basketball punishment shows NCAA means business

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From the day the college basketball corruption scandal broke open, Sept. 26, 2017, one cynical refrain was heard over and over and over:

The NCAA won’t do anything. Nothing will happen.

It has taken more than 2 1/2 years, but the first returns are in and the cynics are wrong. The NCAA has acted. Something has happened. And it was substantial.

Oklahoma State has been hit with a one-year postseason ban plus recruiting sanctions—a penalty that may make the No. 1 incoming freshman in the nation, guard Cade Cunningham, try to get out of his signed letter to play for the Cowboys. In addition, former assistant coach Lamont Evans was slammed with a 10-year show-cause order that most likely ends his days as a college basketball coach.

And while it’s unwise to interpret one case as indicative of how others may play out, every other basketball program implicated in the federal probe and now churning through the NCAA crime-and-punishment process had to look at this ruling and swallow hard, thinking they might be hammered next.

Kansas, North Carolina State, Louisville, USC, South Carolina and TCU all have been charged via Notices of Allegations. Creighton and Auburn certainly have been, but will not acknowledge it. Alabama, LSU and Arizona are on the NOA clock.

And here’s the thing: most of those cases look far more severe than the Oklahoma State case. In fact, many casual fans might have forgotten (or never noticed) that the school was pulled into the quagmire. Which is why the Cowboys are now yelping like a dog that got hit by a rock and vowing to appeal the ruling.

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