When Brad Underwood bailed from Stillwater after just one season as the Cowboy basketball’s head coach, I was incredibly frustrated. Oklahoma State fans had dealt with years of disappointment from Travis Ford, and then this. Brad Underwood appeared to be just what Cowboy basketball needed to turn things around and get back to years of former glory, but the way he up and ran off to Illinois left a bad taste in my mouth.
Mike Boynton, who came with Underwood from Stephen F. Austin to Stillwater, was promoted from assistant coach to head coach following Underwood’s departure. I didn’t know much about Boynton, but after hearing him speak a few times, he seemed likable enough.
Over the course of the last couple of seasons, I’ve been nothing but impressed with the man. He’s proven himself to be not just invested in his program, but he’s invested in the lives of the young men that he works with every single day. He’s incredibly supportive of Oklahoma State as a whole, and he puts out an image that any collegiate basketball program would be happy to have.
Just a few weeks ago, the men’s basketball program was hit with sanctions from the NCAA for recruiting violations that occurred years before by a coach who hasn’t been in Stillwater since 2017. Included in the punishment is a 1-year postseason ban, which is currently being appealed.
This is incredibly damaging to the future of the program, especially considering that Boynton has put together one of the top-ranked incoming classes of players. 5-star recruit Cade Cunningham is the biggest name, but let’s not forget about 4-star recruit Rondel Walker and 3-star recruits Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, Donovan Williams, and Montreal Pena.
Staring at potentially no postseason opportunities, it would make sense for any of these players, particularly Cunningham, to decide to up and go elsewhere. However, each one of them has maintained their intentions to play in Stillwater, and Mike Boynton is the reason why.
When the sanctions began to unfold, Boynton made a statement on a video call saying, “I sit here extremely frustrated and really disappointed for this program but most importantly for the players in our program, many of which weren’t a part of our program when this began and has absolutely very minimal knowledge of anything that even happened in this case. I feel bad for them, and I certainly hope that through the appeals process we can understand more how terribly impactful this can be for their careers and their futures.”
He continually showed recruits his support, whether they chose to continue with their plans to attend Oklahoma State or go elsewhere, by speaking of Cunningham, saying, “I didn’t spend four years recruiting (Cunningham) and telling him how much I cared about him to now abandon what’s important for him. So we’re going to have conversations over the next few days, probably weeks, and we’re going to try to look at all the options whatever they are — G-League, overseas, another university, stay at Oklahoma State. At the end of the day whatever he and his family decide is best for his future, I’m going to get right in toe with that and I’m going to support it 100%.”
Mike Boynton’s loyalty to both Oklahoma State University and his players—both active and recruits—shows you just the type of man that he is. Cowboy basketball has an incredible legacy, and while Boynton has yet to rack up Big 12 Championships or NCAA Tournament game victories, it is obvious that he has guided the program in a positive direction, and the impact that he has already made, let alone the one that he will continue to make, is one that will surely stand the test of time.