The NCAA rejected a final appeal to reinstate Dez Bryant, and Oklahoma State probably has seen the last of its All-American receiver.
An attorney for Bryant said Thursday that the one-year penalty handed down by the NCAA amounted to a “death penalty” for his client’s college career, considering that he’s likely to enter next year’s NFL Draft.
“I don’t know that there’s much about this type of decision that would help improve a person,” Willie Baker, Bryant’s attorney, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I think there are other ways that the NCAA might try to develop — a different way of administering, if you want to call it punishment or whatever, but in the end it ought to be something that would be helpful to the student.”
Baker said he didn’t know for certain whether Bryant would enter the draft, but said the NCAA gave him no incentive to stay in school by declaring him ineligible through September 2010.
“He has not told me what he will do, but if I had to guess, I would say that he would decide to not continue with school and just continue to prepare himself for the draft,” Baker said.
The NCAA rejected Oklahoma State’s appeal to reinstate Bryant on Thursday, bringing an end to the process that began in late September when Bryant sat out the first of five games while the NCAA investigated his offseason meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders at a Texas athletic center. Since initially lying to an NCAA investigator about the meeting, Bryant has admitted he jogged with Sanders and went to his home. He also issued apologies both publicly and in a letter to the NCAA.
Baker said the season-long suspension was a result of the lie alone and that Bryant wasn’t found guilty of breaking any other NCAA rules.
“It’s about lying about things that were nonevents and certainly were not violations,” Baker said. “That comes from a situation where Dez was scared.”
Baker said Bryant was called before the NCAA and told he could hire an attorney but was provided with no details up front about what rules he was suspected of breaking. He said it was only natural that Bryant, who told the NCAA in his reinstatement request that he “panicked,” would be nervous.
The NCAA decided last week that Bryant should be suspended until next September, and OSU appealed to the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. That panel announced Thursday that it had rejected the appeal in a two-paragraph statement that included no explanation.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail that members of the committee were not permitted to speak to reporters and that the agency’s national office had no comment beyond the statement. A call to Big Ten associate commissioner Carol Iwaoka, the chair of the reinstatement committee, was referred to Osburn.
Baker suggested that the NCAA could develop ways to rehabilitate student-athletes who break the rules, as courts do in ordering substance-abuse and anger-management programs as an alternative to jail.