STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart was suspended three games Sunday by the Big 12 for shoving a fan in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech only hours earlier.
The Big 12 acted swiftly in banning the All-America guard, saying in a statement the penalty was handed down for “inappropriate conduct with a spectator.”
Smart apologized to the fan, his family and team for his actions before coach Travis Ford expressed support for the sophomore without dismissing the severity of the player’s actions.
“This is not how I conduct myself. This is not how the program is run. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me,” Smart said. “It’s something I’ll have to learn from, a lesson I’ll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it — I’m taking full responsibility. No fingers pointing — this is all upon me.”
Smart will miss games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. He can return for the Cowboys’ Feb. 22 home game against Texas Tech. But Ford said Smart will be allowed to practice.
Late in Saturday night’s game at Lubbock, Texas, Smart shoved Tech fan Jeff Orr with two hands after it appeared the Red Raiders fan said something to the top NBA prospect. Teammates quickly pulled Smart away as he pointed back in Orr’s direction.
Texas Tech released a statement saying they conducted a thorough investigation. Orr denied making a racial slur and Tech says the evidence backs up Orr’s statement.
Orr, who attends many Tech games a year, has voluntarily agreed to not attend any Red Raiders home or away games for the remainder of the season, according to the statement.
“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,” Orr said in the statement. “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.”
Considered one of the best all-around players in the country, Smart has showed frustration more than once during an inconsistent season.
The sophomore guard got off to a fantastic start, leading to speculation that he could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft this year. He has struggled in some recent games, though, including a four-point effort against West Virginia when he kicked a chair on the bench. That led to him apologizing to his teammates afterward.
But Ford felt this incident was unprecedented for Smart.
“Marcus Smart made a big mistake last night. He knows that,” Ford said. “I know Marcus Smart. Pretty much been around him on a daily basis for two years. Undoubtedly, last night was not one of his finest moments. But he’s had a lot of fine moments as a player and as a person.”