Unraveling the latest Sampson debacle

Kelvin Sampson(Editor’s Note: For a partial transcript of the teleconference with Rick Greenspan, Kelvin Sampson and Grace Calhoun, click here.)

First, a preface: I like Kelvin Sampson at the helm for IU. I think he is a good, smart coach who’s been around long enough — he’s heading into his 25th year of coaching — to know the ins, the outs, the ups and the downs of basketball at the collegiate level. That being said, there were two major qualms when Rick Greenspan announced he’d be taking over the head coaching position. The first being: could this guy actually step into a “big-time” program and succeed? I mean, who the heck was this Kelvin Sampson guy, anyways? I think the answer to that is a decisive “yes” at the moment. Yeah, we have a small sample size to go on, but so far so good, right?

Second, and perhaps of equal importance for some IU fans: people were worried about the sanctions, the impermissible phone calls and whether or not Kelvin Sampson would waltz in here and strip away our supposed high ethics and clean program some out there are very proud of. But hey, that stuff happened at Oklahoma. It didn’t happen here. We were in the clear, right? Well, not really.

And so the answer to the second qualm at the moment is a decisive “no.” Look, let’s get one thing straight, everyone is doing this type of stuff. College basketball recruiting is a dirty game and coaches and programs cut corners all the time. (I would say Bob Knight is the exception to this and I think that’s why some people are so infuriated with Kelvin Sampson right now. But on the same accord, Knight’s unwillingness to adjust and adapt to new ways of recruiting and handling his players — you know, not grabbing or hitting them — led to his downfall at IU.)

Now, I’m certainly not condoning what Sampson and his staff did here. Even though the internal investigation turned up some very minor stuff — Sampson being in on 10 three-way calls, the staff making 35 more phone calls then allowed — it’s still unacceptable for a guy that’s on such thin ice to begin with. It’s bad for the program; it’s bad for the school; heck, it’s bad on the recruiting front — we lost a scholarship because of this. Although, it’s essentially Bud Mackey’s scholarship, so it doesn’t hurt us quite as much as it could have.

And I just don’t know if I buy Sampson’s explanation on the three-way calls. Via the Indy Star:

“All of the calls were kids that were calling me. Our coaches did a great job in telling kids that ‘Coach can’t you call you because of the sanctions so will you call him?’ And that’s what we did. I found out about the three-way calls after they looked at the records. They saw that there had been three-way calls made and found out that Rob (Senderoff) had, after the kid had called me and tried to reach me on my cell phone, they would call coach Senderoff back and say ‘Coach Sampson was unavailable. I tried him on his cellphone. So what Rob was doing was patching the calls into me, and I was getting them not knowing that Rob had made the connection. But when I answered the phone in these situations, the kid would start talking.”

“So I was basically an operator. And instead of hanging up, Rob would stay on, because if he hung up the connection would be lost. And this was 10 calls out of thousands. And it’s disappointing. We’re trying to get 100 percent compliant here. We had 10 out of thousands, and that was 10 too many.”

I don’t know. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt here, but again, how could they be so careless, so sloppy and so stupid if they knew they were under such a microscope during Sampson’s year-long penalty? Did they know what they were doing was wrong, but decided to do it anyways? I’d tend to think that. Maybe the three-way calling was a mistake, but they had to have known they made too many phone calls in the allowable span. I mean, this is what Sampson got in trouble for at Oklahoma and in his first year here the coaching staff accidentally does the same thing? I just don’t buy that.

In the end, this will all pass. Eric Gordon will start wowing us; D.J. White will dazzle and Eli Holman will be a treat. We’ll put this to the back of our minds. After all, it could have been much worse.

But still: it’s a bit unsettling our coach has been penalized twice and he’s only been here seven months. Unsettling, indeed.

  • Steve O

    On a lighter note, has anybody gotten any news on the reaction of the recruits who were in attendance at midnight madness? Apparently Dexter Strickland and Nolan Dennis were VERY impressed. Any news?

  • kelin

    steve o-

    I read the same thing, moreso on Dexter Strickland.

  • kelin

    steve o-

    I read the same thing, moreso on Dexter Strickland.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com Big A

    I read that Stephenson, Dennis and Strickland were all impressed. Also read that Ebanks wasn’t too worried about Sampson and the phone calls.

    Here’s the article I saw on Stephenson and Ebanks:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/10152007/sports/stephenson_wary_of_hooisers.htm

    Also, notice how they spelled Hoosiers. What a great newspaper.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com Big A

    I read that Stephenson, Dennis and Strickland were all impressed. Also read that Ebanks wasn’t too worried about Sampson and the phone calls.

    Here’s the article I saw on Stephenson and Ebanks:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/10152007/sports/stephenson_wary_of_hooisers.htm

    Also, notice how they spelled Hoosiers. What a great newspaper.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com Big A

    I read that Stephenson, Dennis and Strickland were all impressed. Also read that Ebanks wasn’t too worried about Sampson and the phone calls.

    Here’s the article I saw on Stephenson and Ebanks:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/10152007/sports/stephenson_wary_of_hooisers.htm

    Also, notice how they spelled Hoosiers. What a great newspaper.

  • kelin

    Comment for Kent Benson-

    It is 2007 who cares what you think, go hang out with the 72 dolphins and show up when we need you. If IU goes to the final 4 you will be there in your old uniform and the candy stripes. I am sick of him always piling on when something goes down.

  • kelin

    Comment for Kent Benson-

    It is 2007 who cares what you think, go hang out with the 72 dolphins and show up when we need you. If IU goes to the final 4 you will be there in your old uniform and the candy stripes. I am sick of him always piling on when something goes down.

  • BigRedFan

    Rarely to I agree with Kravitz at the Indy Star, in fact, I believe this is the first time. Sampson should be sent packing and the AD should follow right behind him. Shame on you IU, and the previous President, for hiring both of them!

  • BigRedFan

    Rarely to I agree with Kravitz at the Indy Star, in fact, I believe this is the first time. Sampson should be sent packing and the AD should follow right behind him. Shame on you IU, and the previous President, for hiring both of them!

  • BigRedFan

    Rarely to I agree with Kravitz at the Indy Star, in fact, I believe this is the first time. Sampson should be sent packing and the AD should follow right behind him. Shame on you IU, and the previous President, for hiring both of them!

  • Luke

    Big A what do think the NCAA will do now?

  • Luke

    Big A what do think the NCAA will do now?

  • Luke

    Big A what do think the NCAA will do now?

  • http://www.insidethehall.com Big A

    Who knows what the NCAA will do, we should know something in the next couple of weeks.

    One thing I do know is that Kent Benson saying Kelvin Sampson should be fired should have no impact on the whole situation.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com Big A

    Who knows what the NCAA will do, we should know something in the next couple of weeks.

    One thing I do know is that Kent Benson saying Kelvin Sampson should be fired should have no impact on the whole situation.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com Big A

    Who knows what the NCAA will do, we should know something in the next couple of weeks.

    One thing I do know is that Kent Benson saying Kelvin Sampson should be fired should have no impact on the whole situation.

  • Tom

    I believe that Sampson never they were 3 way calls. First Sendehoff’s name has tobe programed into Sampson’s cell phone. So when the calls came in with Senderhoff name and someone else is on the line you have to know it’s a 3 way call.

  • Tom

    I believe that Sampson never they were 3 way calls. First Sendehoff’s name has tobe programed into Sampson’s cell phone. So when the calls came in with Senderhoff name and someone else is on the line you have to know it’s a 3 way call.

  • http://wearethebusinessmen.com PMK

    Couldn’t agree more about Kurt Benson and his comments. I do not understand where some dude who I couldn’t point out in a crowd of two people gets sought out for his comments. Yes, I understand that he was on an IU national title team (back in the 70’s or something, who knows?). But let’s add a little perspective to that for those Hoosier fans: 1987 was our last title. In the year 1987, it is safe to say that very few, if any, freshman currently enrolled at Indiana were even born (including some sophs) when the streets of Kirkwood last flooded with such glee.

    To sum it up, Kurt Benson: Shut your mouth. Can someone please offer this guy a job so he stops meddling in the affairs of our basketball program?

    Do you think Devin Ebanks gives a shit what some tall, lanky, white guy who played basketball in the 70’s thinks about Coach Sampson? No, he doesn’t, so lets stick to the story lines that are important here.

    It isn’t like our program and its people are going unpunished here. Sampson’s assistant coach (senderoff) is basically losing his job over this. If you are an assistant who can’t recruit off campus, you don’t have much to offer. Sampson lost a scholarship and $500K. That is plenty enough. I just wish he were more intelligent about circumventing the rules,so we didn’t have to hear about it.

    In order to compete today, a Coach has to be creative. Sampson was doing exactly that and I don’t think less of him as a person nor do I think less of his integrity. 10 calls over the limit is just dumb, and nothing more. Oops, should have been a little more careful about that. Ok, let’s move on and win basketball games.

    I understand from the media-juggernaut known as the “Indy Star” that IU has had no major infractions with the NCAA since 1960. What do I say? When they start hanging banners for crap like that, let me know.

    I am sure such a stat is what lured Eric Gordon here, and the reason that we had such a stud class at Hoosier Hysteria. That is laughable.

    Until then, take stats like the one above, Kurt Benson, and all the others who can’t grasp the fact IU needs to move into the year ’07 and put them in Assembly Hall when we implode it and build a new arena. That would be a fitting end to all the nonsensical garbage about our “tradition”.

    Sorry for the extended rant!

  • http://wearethebusinessmen.com PMK

    Couldn’t agree more about Kurt Benson and his comments. I do not understand where some dude who I couldn’t point out in a crowd of two people gets sought out for his comments. Yes, I understand that he was on an IU national title team (back in the 70’s or something, who knows?). But let’s add a little perspective to that for those Hoosier fans: 1987 was our last title. In the year 1987, it is safe to say that very few, if any, freshman currently enrolled at Indiana were even born (including some sophs) when the streets of Kirkwood last flooded with such glee.

    To sum it up, Kurt Benson: Shut your mouth. Can someone please offer this guy a job so he stops meddling in the affairs of our basketball program?

    Do you think Devin Ebanks gives a shit what some tall, lanky, white guy who played basketball in the 70’s thinks about Coach Sampson? No, he doesn’t, so lets stick to the story lines that are important here.

    It isn’t like our program and its people are going unpunished here. Sampson’s assistant coach (senderoff) is basically losing his job over this. If you are an assistant who can’t recruit off campus, you don’t have much to offer. Sampson lost a scholarship and $500K. That is plenty enough. I just wish he were more intelligent about circumventing the rules,so we didn’t have to hear about it.

    In order to compete today, a Coach has to be creative. Sampson was doing exactly that and I don’t think less of him as a person nor do I think less of his integrity. 10 calls over the limit is just dumb, and nothing more. Oops, should have been a little more careful about that. Ok, let’s move on and win basketball games.

    I understand from the media-juggernaut known as the “Indy Star” that IU has had no major infractions with the NCAA since 1960. What do I say? When they start hanging banners for crap like that, let me know.

    I am sure such a stat is what lured Eric Gordon here, and the reason that we had such a stud class at Hoosier Hysteria. That is laughable.

    Until then, take stats like the one above, Kurt Benson, and all the others who can’t grasp the fact IU needs to move into the year ’07 and put them in Assembly Hall when we implode it and build a new arena. That would be a fitting end to all the nonsensical garbage about our “tradition”.

    Sorry for the extended rant!

  • kelin

    PMK I agree totally ….kurt/kent benson has not been heard from since 1976. I am sure he made himself available all of sudden for comments. Now where is Ted Kitchel when you need him and no IU is still not recruiting your son TEDDY. EVERY person that wants KS fired will not be heard from 6 weeks from now when IU is rollin’ with maybe 1-2 losses……KS is WRONG, SENDEROFF IS WRONG. You are right Senderoff is a glorified manager now but it is the price to pay.

  • kelin

    PMK I agree totally ….kurt/kent benson has not been heard from since 1976. I am sure he made himself available all of sudden for comments. Now where is Ted Kitchel when you need him and no IU is still not recruiting your son TEDDY. EVERY person that wants KS fired will not be heard from 6 weeks from now when IU is rollin’ with maybe 1-2 losses……KS is WRONG, SENDEROFF IS WRONG. You are right Senderoff is a glorified manager now but it is the price to pay.

  • http://wearethebusinessmen.com PMK

    I changed it to Kurt for effect, just being tricky.

  • http://wearethebusinessmen.com PMK

    I changed it to Kurt for effect, just being tricky.

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