Stillwater, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Oklahoma State star guard Marcus Smart has been suspended three games by the Big 12 conference for his confrontation with a Texas Tech fan during Saturday's game in Lubbock.
The incident took place with 6.2 seconds left in the 19th-ranked Cowboys' eventual 65-61 loss to the Red Raiders. With the Cowboys trailing by two points, the Red Raiders came up with a steal and Jaye Crockett raced the other way, but was fouled by Smart as he went to the hoop. Smart's momentum took him under the basket support.
With his back to the crowd, Smart apparently heard a male fan, who was wearing a Texas Tech shirt, say something to him. The Oklahoma State sophomore turned around and walked into the crowd to confront the man and then shoved him before walking back onto the court.
"Mr. Smart's actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference's Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy," said commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. "Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated."
Although he wasn't ejected, Smart was assessed a technical foul and later was escorted to the locker room, this after fans stormed the court as the Red Raiders pulled off the upset.
"I want to apologize to the fan, my teammates, my coaches and my family," said Smart during a press conference Sunday. "I let my emotions get the best of me. I truly apologize. This is not me. I take responsibility and the consequences that come with it."
Smart contended that the fan, later revealed to be Jeff Orr of Waco, Texas, called him a racial slur to trigger his response. Orr, who vehemently denied using a racial slur, has volunteered to not attend any more Texas Tech home games this season.
"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. 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. Additionally, I would like to offer my apologies to Texas Tech fans that have been embarrassed by the attention this incident has created," Orr said in a statement released by Texas Tech.
Also in the statement, Texas Tech agreed that no slur could be heard after viewing footage obtained from the incident.
"Mr. Orr has admitted to directing an inappropriate phrase toward Marcus Smart. Texas Tech has been able to verify that statement independently through video provided by Texas Tech Sports Broadcasting. At no point on the film can a racial slur be heard," the statement read.
The sophomore standout, who leads the Cowboys with an average of 17.5 points per game this season, will sit out three critical Big 12 contests for slumping Oklahoma State.
Smart's suspension begins with Tuesday's matchup at No. 15 Texas. He will also miss a home game against 21st-ranked Oklahoma this coming Saturday as well as a road date against Baylor on Feb. 17.
Oklahoma State has dropped four consecutive games to fall into a tie for seventh place in the Big 12 at 4-6.