‘We’re not operating at the highest level in that area:’ Boynton addresses OSU’s NIL situation

‘We’re not operating at the highest level in that area:’ Boynton addresses OSU’s NIL situation

Players leaving the Oklahoma State basketball program have made coach Mike Boynton realize the importance of staying competitive in NIL. 

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

| Feb 15, 2024, 6:34pm CST

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

Feb 15, 2024, 6:34pm CST

 

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STILLWATER Two years ago, former four-star guard Rondel Walker transferred from Oklahoma State to TCU. It was an illuminating moment.

OSU coach Mike Boynton said that move made him realize his team was at an NIL disadvantage. 

“I know we’re not operating at the highest level in that area,” Boynton said.

“Guys call our kids. It’s part of the game now. It’s the part that no one really wants to talk about. It feels kind of slimy. But I don’t live in a fantasy world. I live in the real world. I know people are probably contacting Brandon Garrison.” — Mike Boynton

Boynton told The Tulsa World in this column that  “There are at least six (Big 12) programs operating above $2 million (on 2023-24 NIL resources) for their roster” and that “There are three or four others that operate between $1 million and $2 million, and we are last. We’re barely over $500,000 in total expenses (committed to basketball).

Walker’s departure wasn’t a one-off occurrence. A similar disruption to OSU’s lineup happened last April when OSU point guard Avery Anderson transferred to TCU. 

“I’m not saying I’m the best person in the world or John Wooden,” Boynton said. “But I don’t think anybody left because they were like ‘Man it is miserable playing for coach Mike and his staff.’”

Anderson didn’t appear to harbor any bad blood with his former Cowboy coaches and teammates when he spoke to reporters after TCU beat OSU 74-69 in January.

“It’s always love,” Anderson said. “I graduated here, so (Oklahoma) State always got a place in my heart.”

The Cowboys are 10-14 (2-9 Big 12) and last in the Big 12. They have lost five conference games by more than 15 points. Boynton didn’t blame the lackluster results on a lack of funding. He said generating support starts with playing well on the court.

“I’m not abstaining myself from any responsibility at all,” Boynton said. “Please make sure that’s clear.”

Attention is shifting to next season and the fate of OSU’s freshmen. The Cowboys have an impressive young core. Brandon Garrison, a center who was a McDonald’s All American, headlines the bunch. Garrison has started 22 games, has 34 blocks and has shot 56% from the field.

Four-star recruit Eric Dailey averages the fourth-most minutes on OSU and has shot 49%. Point guard Jamyron Keller has come on strong since senior Bryce Thompson’s season-ending torn labrum.

Boynton said he’s not sure if it’s possible to keep a young core together for four years. 

“Guys call our kids,” Boynton said. “It’s part of the game now. It’s the part that no one really wants to talk about. It feels kind of slimy. But I don’t live in a fantasy world. I live in the real world. I know people are probably contacting Brandon Garrison.”

Recruiting and retaining players has changed. Boynton said landing future NBA No. 1-overall pick Cade Cunningnham in 2020 was hard. It required being at Cunningham’s games and practices more than Kansas coach Bill Self or North Carolina’s Roy Williams.

With NIL’s explosion, Boynton said devoting energy to building relationships isn’t always worth it. 

“I can’t work that hard anymore,” Boynton said. “Not when you can say here’s $500,000 to come spend nine months over here.”

Boynton said making a late-season run is important, not for this season but the next one. OSU has seven regular season games remaining, starting on Saturday at home against BYU.

“We’ve got to try to make a run at the end of the season to build some momentum so we can tell (players) there’s a future here,” Boynton said.

 

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Sam Hutchens covers Oklahoma State sport for Sellout Crowd. He interned for The Stillwater News Press in 2021 and The Guthrie News Leader in 2022, where he won a first-place OPA award for in-depth reporting. He has also covered sports in southwest Oklahoma for The Lawton Constitution. He strives to tell you the OSU sports stories that you want to tell your friends about. You can email him at [email protected] and connect on Twitter (X) @Sam_Hutchens_

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