In the final minutes of the game at Texas Tech, Smart was involved in a play that sent him crashing into the first couple rows of fans. That’s when Tech’s number one fan, Jeff Orr, had some choice words for the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. Words Marcus didn’t appreciate. With a shove square in the chest, he let Orr know that being at a sporting event shouldn’t give you free pass to verbally abuse a young man.
Cowboy fans were shocked, Red Raider fans were pissed, and the rest of the nation was perplexed, why wasn't Smart tossed from the game? After all, regardless of what Orr did or didn’t say, it’s inexcusable for a player to physically engage with a fan. The reality is a 19-year-old student athlete is held to a higher standard than an air traffic controller the better part of 50. Fair or not, no sport can have its athletes attacking fans. No matter how much they have it coming.
So why wasn't Smart ejected? Turns out, the answer is pretty simple. It wasn't within the official’s power.
"We didn't have a rule to cover it," the Big 12 Coordinator of Officials, Curtis Shaw, explained to ESPN’s Andy Katz, "We had a rule that if a player left the court in order to participate in a fight but not one to interact with the fans," he said. "We discussed that the rule was intended to cover (a player interaction with a fan), but it wasn't in there."
The NCAA wasted no time addressing the rules oversight. As Katz reported, an NCAA memo sent out Monday informed coordinators that there's been some changes. The rule, officially known as Rule 10-1.3.h, dictates that any player that leaves the court for an altercation with a fan, player, band member, or mascot -so basically anyone- will receive a Flagrant 2, and automatic ejection.
Smart was immediately slapped with a three game suspension following the incident, and Saturday marks Smart's return to the hardwood. He spoke with the Tulsa World’s Kelly Hines about the fallout, "Everybody is responsible for their own actions," Smart said. "It's easy to point the finger at somebody else, but a real man, a real woman, a real person knows when it's time to take the blame and when to take responsibility for their own actions."
"I take full responsibility for my own actions. It was my fault, and everything I did, it happened for a reason. The consequences came with it and I took the consequences. I dealt with it and the consequences are over. I served what I had to do, and now it's time to get back to playing basketball."