The Big 12 Conference suspended Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart for three games on Sunday for shoving Tech fan Jeff Orr, who sparked the incident by calling Smart a “piece of crap” and agreed to not attend any Tech basketball games for the rest of the season.
The shove happened in the final seconds of Tech’s 65-61 upset win at United Spirit Arena.
Smart fouled Tech senior forward Jaye Crockett on a layup and landed on the ground in the stands behind the basket.
Suddenly, Smart rose to his feet and confronted Orr, who was behind him, after Orr spoke. Smart pushed him before being restrained by teammates.
The incident made sports news across the nation over the weekend amid speculation Orr said something of a racial nature.
“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,” said Orr as part of a statement released by Texas Tech.
Stillwater press conference
At a news conference Sunday in Stillwater, Smart said, “I want to apologize to the fan, whose name is Jeff Orr. I want to apologize to him. I want to apologize to my teammates, to my coaching staff, Coach Ford, my family and Oklahoma State University. This is not how I (conduct) myself. This is not how this program is ran. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me. Just can’t let that happen again. This is a lesson I’ll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it, I’m taking full responsibility. No finger pointing. This is all upon me.”
Smart will begin serving his suspension on Tuesday, Feb. 11, when the Cowboys travel to Austin to play the Longhorns. He’ll return, ironically, when Tech visits Stillwater on Feb. 22.
“Mr. Smart’s actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated. I appreciate the efforts of Oklahoma State University athletics director Mike Holder in addressing this matter, and believe this is an appropriate response to an inappropriate action.”
When Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford was asked to specify what Smart claimed the Tech fan said, he declined to answer.
Smart will miss games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor.
“I feel like I let my teammates down,” Smart said. “These guys mean a lot to me. Not to be able to be out there with them hits me in my heart.”
During the suspension, Smart is prohibited from all team travel and gameday activities through the Baylor game on Monday, Feb. 17.
“Marcus made a big mistake last night,” Ford said. “He knows that. He knows we obviously do not cond one things of that matter. He has owned up to it.
“I love Marcus Smart for the person he is, and I know this is going to make him a better person. Marcus is a young man that has been in the publc eye quite a bit. And I think we all agree that the majority of the time, the highest percentage of the time, he’s conducted himself as a tremendous young man. He made a mistake, a mistake he’s going to pay for, and not just in a three-game suspension.”
Tech released its statement after conducting an investigation interviewing Orr, fans, photographers and arena personnel seated in the area surrounding the incident.
“Orr denied the accusation that he used a racial slur and no one seated around him said they heard such a slur,” the statement said.
Then Orr was quoted saying, “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. My actions last night were inappropriate and do not reflect myself or Texas Tech — a university I love dearly. ... Additionally, I would like to offer my apologies to Texas Tech fans that have been embarrassed by the attention this incident has created.”
This comes four years after Orr made a crude gesture to a Texas A&M player during a game in Lubbock.
Orr voluntarily agreed to not attend a Texas Tech basketball game, home or away, for the rest of this season, the statement said.
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