By Michael Matter,
Sports Business Writer
As many may know, a few weeks ago, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart was involved in an altercation with a fan late in their loss to Texas Tech.
As Smart attempted to block a shot attempt, he ended up fouling the Texas Tech player and his momentum carried him into the first couple rows of seats.
As Smart attempted to get himself up and back onto the court, it appeared that a fan, Jeff Orr, said something to instigate a response from Smart, who ended up shoving the fan.
Even though Smart was given a technical foul and taken out of the game, he was not ejected by the officials to the surprise of many college basketball fans.
But as the Big 12 coordinator of officials said, “There is no precedent for that. Our rules are for flagrant 1 or 2. We don’t have grounds for dealing with a fan. We don’t have a rule to get involved when the player is involved with a fan. We don’t know what was said. The official, Doug Sirmons, didn’t know what was said.”
The NCAA did not waste much time clarifying this gray area so that the situation could be properly handled next time.
The change to the rule now states that if a player is involved in an altercation with a fan in the stands, that player automatically receives a non-contact flagrant two foul, a foul that results in an ejection.
Even though Smart was not ejected, he did not get away unpunished as he was given a three-game suspension by the NCAA.
Shortly after receiving his suspension, Smart apologized, not only to Orr, but to coaches, teammates and fans as well.
“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, 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,” Smart told reporters.
But can all the blame in this situation be put on Marcus Smart? There are differing stories on what Orr said to Smart to set him off. Smart told coaches, after being taken out for shoving Orr that he had used a racial slur directed at him but in later questioning Orr claimed all he called Smart was a “piece of crap.”
This is also not Orr’s first time having altercations with players. Former Oklahoma State and current Utah Jazz guard John Lucas III claims that Orr was heckling him during his college playing days. Also, there is video evidence of Orr making an obscene gesture toward a Texas A&M player back in 2010.
Even though what Smart did crossed the line; we should not be so quick to only blame him. Sometimes a fan can take things too far and they should be held responsible as well, but at least for the player, we have some structure in place now should there be further incidents.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 25 print edition.
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