The NCAA finally let IU respond back to its allegations. And well, the university didn’t agree with that whole “failure to monitor” bit. IU says Kelvin Sampson held back on just when, where and how he was going about his phone calls.
“In no way did I ever hide or withhold information from Indiana University’s compliance department,” Sampson, now an assistant coach with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, said in a statement released by his agent.
“I vehemently deny the inference that I made and concealed impermissible calls. The NCAA has never alleged that I initiated any illegal phone calls to recruits while serving as the head coach at Indiana. I always provided Indiana with everything they requested, including all documents and phone records.”
Oh, what a nice little game of he said, she said we have going on here, huh? Ugh. Alex has already said this, but can we get this nice sordid mess behind us already? At this point, I really don’t care who is right and who is wrong. I just want it done and over and whatever penalties are laid upon us to be laid upon us. Let’s move onwards and upwards.
After all, we have the 2009 class to look foward to.
So, doing my offseason Dagger due diligence, I tried to summarize today the logical arguments at the core of Indiana’s response to the NCAA about the Kelvin Sampson allegations. I wrote:
Indiana’s main arguments are, simply, that the “failure to monitor” charge brought against it by the NCAA can’t be true. Why? because former coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff intentionally misled the school about their use of cellphones, particularly in the case of Sampson’s infamous party-line maneuver. (If you’ll remember, he would have assistant Rob Senderoff three-way call from a recruit into Sampson’s cell phone; this was very much against the rules.)Also, according to the school, the “failure to monitor” can’t be true because the University reported all of these violations itself. And lastly, Indiana is making a similar argument to Mad Men’s Freddy Rumsen Sunday night — isn’t the embarrassment punishment enough?
I think I’ve got most of it there, and if those are indeed the main arguments at hand, I’ve gotta say: I am pretty impressed by them. They at least make sense, right? Do I think the NCAA will immediately raise its hands in defeat, admitting IU’s rhetorical genius and ceding the case, Perry Mason-style, in one fell swoop? No. But at the very least, IU’s administration didn’t turn in a gomer of a report. They made it clear why this was Sampson’s fault. Because it was.
The Hoosier Scoop has the, ahem, scoop: The NCAA faxed a letter to IU today telling the school it was being granted an extra nine days to send its response to the NCAA’s allegations that Kelvin Sampson did some very naughty things. What’s more, the letter from the NCAA specifically tells IU not to file its response ahead of the new deadline.
This is where I drop any pretense of having any clue what’s going on here and just ask: What’s going on here? Why would the NCAA push back its self-imposed deadline, and then force IU not to respond before a new deadline? Are they really just not finished with their work? Did someone take an untimely vacation? Is the office printer low on toner?
The Indianapolis Business Journalhas an excellent piece this morning on the search for a new athletic director and it includes a list of candidates that could potentially fill the opening:
Former IU basketball player and current Senior Associate Athletic Director Chris Reynolds, IU Varsity Club Director Scott Dolson, former IU football star Harry Gonso, former IU basketball player and TV commentator John Laskowski and well-known Indianapolis sports attorney Jack Swarbrick are the names with the strongest local ties that have surfaced. Tom Jurich, the highly regarded University of Louisville athletic director, is the first and most prominent within the AD fraternity to surface. He certainly won’t be the last.
Not a bad list to kick off the search with, but the chances of Jurich leaving Louisville for Indiana are zero unless IU is willing to pay upwards of $750,000 (or more) annually. And given the financial packages that are currently on the books, it would be hard to justify that kind of cash for a guy who would likely want to come in and get his own guy to head the football program.
McRobbie, who departed the country for a planned trip shortly after Greenspan’s resignation was announced, is expected to make the final decision himself. He hasn’t said how the candidates will be identified, but sources within the university’s athletic department expect him to take one of three routes.
The most likely process would mirror the one McRobbie used to hire Crean. He formed a search committee to identify two or three finalists and made the hire after conferring with IU’s nine-member board.
Hopefully this will be the route used in the hiring as it would put McRobbie’s accountability front and center and give him a chance to put his stamp on the athletic department going forward. If he makes the right call, he solidifies himself as an important figure in the rebuilding process following the Kelvin Sampson fiasco. If not, well, you know the story.
The final point of interest from the piece is the debate on whether IU needs to hire an AD with “Indiana ties.” Mike Pegram, who runs Peegs.com, feels it’s a necessity while former IU cross-country and track runner Bob Kennedy isn’t so sure:
“I didn’t formerly subscribe to hiring an IU guy,” said Pegram. “But now I do. I just think now it’s so important to nurture the Indiana culture—emphasizing playing by the rules, graduation, doing things the right way. I think having the kind of sensibility that will come from someone with Indiana ties is now more important than ever.”
“We have to keep our horizons broad and get the best possible person,” said Kennedy, who was recently elected to the IU Varsity Club board of directors. “It’s up to the president and trustees to define a culture and hire people best able to nurture the culture you want.”
I’m going with Kennedy on this. If we subscribe to the “we need an IU guy” theory, Tom Crean is still in Marquette and we’re left with Steve Alford or Dan Dakich. The necessity is to hire best candidate out there, regardless of previous affiliations.
So, ITH’ers: A couple of questions for you to ponder and then discuss. What do you think of the early list of candidates? Any names that intrigue you? Do you want McRobbie making the final call on Greenspan’s replacement? And finally, do we need an “IU guy” in the role of athletic director?
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, who might be finally starting to figure out the importance of the basketball program in Bloomington, told the NCAA infractions committee in a hearing last month that hiring Kelvin Sampson was a mistake. Who knew?
“Indiana University took a risk in hiring Coach Sampson and giving him a second chance following his problems at Oklahoma. It is now clear that this was a risk that should not have been taken and the university regrets doing so. These coaches were entrusted not just with the success of our men’s basketball program, but with the good name of Indiana University. I am not just saddened, I am angry, that they betrayed that trust.”
As more and more information from the hearing starts to become public, you’re going to see a trend. IU stance: We should have never hired Sampson. Please don’t hurt us, NCAA overlords. We’ll never misbehave again! Sampson and the coaching staff were rogue actors who we could not control (despite the fact that we had their phone records; hence the failure to monitor charge).
You know, I could almost get on board with the rogue actors theory, but the fact that IU wasn’t on top of this whole fiasco from the beginning leaves me with little sympathy for any carnage that might ensue. Luckily for all of Hoosier Nation, IU has the right man in Tom Crean to rebuild the program. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a rough couple of years.
Just as I breathlessly thanked everyone for our first year and alluded to all the drama of the past year that has seemingly passed us by, something else creeps up. Rick Greenspan has resigned as athletic director at IU, effective at the end of this calendar year. The Infractions Committee has also charged IU with “failure to monitor” which seems to coincide with what castaway Kelvin Sampson was trying to use as his defense.
From IU Media Relations:
Indiana University today (June 26) released the text of a further allegation that has been made against it by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. This allegation, called Allegation 6, is titled “failure to monitor,” and follows five other allegations made against the university earlier this year by the NCAA. A hearing concerning these first five allegations was held on 14 and 15 June. The text of the letter citing this new allegation can be viewed at http://www.indiana.edu/~iunews/letter.pdf. Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said the University intends to defend itself vigorously against this additional allegation.
According to the Hoosier Scoop, a 4:30 press conference has been scheduled at Assembly Hall. More information is sure to trickle out from it and in the coming days. But wow: a preliminary glance at this puts IU at just as much fault as Sampson. Who would have thought that. (Certainly not me. This post might look a bit foolish now.) We’ll have more as this develops.
A year ago today, Big A tossed down the very first post on this here blog. (About Bud freakin’ Mackey of all people.) Since then, it’s been about the most gosh darn eventful time in IU’s recent — or perhaps entire — history. To wit: we had Mackey and crack, Sampson phone problems, Senderoff’s resignation, players getting suspended, and suspended, and suspended, Sampson phone troubles again, his dismissal, the Dakich take over, the team collapsing under the weight of it all, Dakich booting Bassett and Ellis, Tom Crean taking over, the whole damn team leaving and Crean recruiting everyone you haven’t heard of under the sun. (We can all breath now. Phew.)
If you were to say we expected even a tenth of this stuff to go down, we would not have believed you. (This is how these things always go, it seems.) But hey, it was fun to cover and blog about. Sure: we would have loved for IU to storm their way to the Final Four, for Eric Gordon, D.J. White and Kelvin Sampson to cut down the nets in San Antonio, but things do not always go as we would have hoped.
Without confirming with E — though I know I don’t need to — the reason this site has garnered any amount of success is because of Big A. The guy lives and breathes this blog and he churns out the posts day in and day out. Myself and E are tied up with other writing endeavors outside of the real jobs (I’m also incredibly lazy); without Big A this site ceases to exist.
Lastly, we want to thank each and everyone of you. Without the comments, the visits, the feedback and the tips, we wouldn’t be nearly as enthused about the site, and what the future holds for it. To the commenters who have been here since the start, (hi Kelin and Jamie!) we thank you. To those that joined along the way and have made a community out of this place, we thank you. We hope we’ve done a good job with year one; we look forward to year two.