It’s been a tough week for fans of all sports at Stephen F. Austin. At the start of the week, it was announced that three sports would receive postseason bans in three different sports due to an administrative error. That seemed bad enough, but then it got worse the next day.
One day later, it was announced that 82 Stephen F. Austin student-athletes in nine different sports had been declared ineligible. Because of the penalties, every win that involved those student-athletes will be vacated. This includes 29 football victories from 2013-19, 117 men’s basketball victories from 2014-19, 112 baseball victories from 2015-19, 31 softball victories from 2018 and adjusted scores in women’s golf, women’s track and field, men’s cross country and men’s track and field.
Specifically, the men’s basketball team felt the impact of this punishment. The Lumberjacks men’s basketball team has seen tremendous success under Brad Underwood and Kyle Keller during that time, including three Southland Conference Championships and then this year, a massive upset win over Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. But the team’s Twitter account isn’t letting anyone forget that game, despite the ruling:
Just so we’re clear…
— SFA Basketball (@SFA_MBB) May 22, 2020
Facing the then-No. 1 Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Stephen F. Austin hit a layup at the buzzer in overtime to knock off the Blue Devils, 85-83. The win by the Lumberjacks snapped a 150-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents for Duke.
The man of the hour was Nathan Bain. He took the ball coast-to-coast with just four seconds left on the clock, dropping the ball in the hoop for the upset win as time expired. Stephen F. Austin went on to go 28-3 overall and 19-1 in the Southland Conference. The Lumberjacks won the Southland Conference and likely would have won the conference tournament and would have been in the NCAA Tournament, had it not been canceled.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than this,” Bain said after the Duke game, according to ESPN. “But getting a win inside the NCAA Tournament, that’s a different type of sweet. That’s a different type of taste you want to have. We didn’t get that last year.”
While it was a tough decision to accept the punishment and thus forfeit the Duke win, it was said that this was the best route that the Lumberjacks could have taken.
“This route saved the university time and financial resources, but most importantly, lessened the risk of more severe penalties if the university had opted to proceed through the traditional infractions process,” Stephen F. Austin athletic director Ryan Ivey wrote in a statement to Lumberjack fans.
This year looked like it was going to be another special March Madness run for Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks went 28-3 overall and 19-1 in conference play, winning the Southland Conference regular season championship. They likely would have come away with another conference tournament title, and thus, a berth in the NCAA Tournament. From there, there’s no telling what the Lumberjacks would have done.