Friday, February 22, 2008 Updated: February 23, 10:24 AM ET
Indiana, Sampson reach $750,000 settlement to part ways
ESPN.com news services
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Basketball coach Kelvin Sampson agreed to Indiana's offer of a $750,000 buyout Friday,
waiving his right to sue the university for further damages, and
turning the program over to interim coach Dan Dakich.
"I have made the very difficult decision to leave my position as head coach of the men's basketball team at Indiana University," Sampson said in a statement. "While I'm saddened that I won't have the opportunity to continue to coach these student-athletes, I feel that it is in the best interest of the program to step aside at this time."
The deal calls for Sampson to be paid $750,000, $550,000 of which is being provided by an anonymous donor, the university said. The remainder will come from athletic department funds.
Sampson has agreed he will not file a wrongful termination lawsuit against Indiana.
The settlement was first reported by ESPN.com's Andy Katz.
The athletic department's response to an NCAA report charging
Sampson with five major NCAA rules violations may create an even
bigger mess for the Hoosiers, starting with Saturday's
game at Northwestern.
Some players threatened to sit out the game as a protest.
However, athletic director Rick Greenspan, who asked for Sampson's
resignation, said he expected the players to participate at
Northwestern and the program to move forward after one of the
darkest chapters in program history. And according to an Indiana spokesman, all players were present at the team walk-through Friday night.
On Saturday morning, all of Indiana's players were at the airport preparing to board a flight to Chicago to face Northwestern on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET, according to Katz.
"I feel a significant disappointment, first and foremost, for
our players," Greenspan said. "I think this is a very difficult
thing for them to go through. It's a disappointment for the team, a
disappointment for the fans of our university who I think take
great pride in having been, for a long time, major infraction-free.
But sometimes out of these situations come some very good things
and I think that's the only way I can feel about it. We are going
to move forward."
How quickly, or devotedly, the players follow is still a
I think the decision [to part with Sampson]was formed shortly after the letter of allegations was received. I think shortly after our president said those allegations were troubling and deeply concerning and that we'd work through this is when we came to the conclusion.
--IU AD Rick Greenspan
Senior captain D.J. White, guards Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford
and Jamarcus Ellis, and forwards DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee
skipped Dakich's first practice Friday afternoon. By Friday night's
scheduled walk-through, Greenspan said most if not all of the
missing players were back and he expected them to leave for Chicago
with the rest of the team Saturday morning.
Sampson also offered players his support in his statement saying: "I wish my players nothing but the best for the remainder of
Sampson's two-year tenure at Indiana ended the same way it
began, with an NCAA hearing scheduled for alleged rules
He took the Indiana job in March 2006 and two months later was
penalized by the NCAA for making 577 impermissible phone calls
between 2000 and 2004 when he was coaching Oklahoma.
Given the pending charges, many Indiana fans and some trustees
thought it was a mistake to even hire Sampson.
And when the phone calls and accusations continued, it only
created more angst among the fan-base.
"In retrospect, I think there should have been greater
considerations," trustee Philip Eskew Jr. said. "But you talk to
the man and he says, 'I'm not going to do that,' and I believe in
giving guys second chances. But when he goes back on his word,
that's something else."
The second wave of charges emerged in October when a university
investigation found Sampson and his staff made more than 100
impermissible calls while still under recruiting restrictions and
that Sampson participated in at least 10 three-way calls, another
violation of the NCAA's punishment.
Greenspan called the violations secondary, imposing a one-year
extension of the NCAA's recruiting restrictions and pulling a
$500,000 raise. The Hoosiers also took away one scholarship for the
What the NCAA found, however, was far more serious. The report,
released last week, claimed Sampson provided false and misleading
information to investigators from both the university and the NCAA,
failed to meet the "generally recognized high standard of
honesty" expected in college sports and failed to promote an
atmosphere of compliance within the program.
The allegations unleashed a torrent of criticism, and many fans
booed Sampson during introductions during the Hoosiers' next three
games. University president Michael McRobbie then announced the
university would take a second look at the charges, setting a
Friday deadline for Greenspan to make his recommendation.
Sampson never had a chance.
"I think that decision was formed shortly after the letter of
allegations was received," Greenspan said. "I think shortly after
our president said those allegations were troubling and deeply
concerning and that we'd work through this is when we came to the
Still, Greenspan worked long and hard to resolve the mess.
He met with the team Thursday night and worked in his office
till nearly midnight. On Friday morning, he met briefly with
Sampson in the coaches' office. A few minutes after Greenspan left
the coach's office, Sampson walked down a ramp with his wife,
Karen, went into another coaches' office was not seen again inside
If there was any doubt, it was virtually erased when players,
managers, assistant coaches and the coach's son, Kellen Sampson,
left a team meeting with dour expressions about midday.
Just before practice started, the depth of the problems took on
While Indiana star freshman guard Eric Gordon said he expected
to play against Northwestern, White and other players never showed
When asked if they would skip Saturday's game, Greenspan said:
"I assume there's always that chance, and I won't pretend to speak
for our players. Much like any student-athlete, they develop a
strong affinity with a coach and that's a tribute to coach
Outside the locker room, there was relief.
The decision, helped by an anonymous donor's gift of $550,000
for the buyout, seemed to pacify those who wanted the stain of
"I'm glad it's over. I just want to move forward and I hope the
players can accept it and move forward with us," Eskew Jr. said.
"It's just a bad time for Indiana University. I regret it. I'm
sorry it happened. I'm just glad everything's over with and hope
the players rally around each other and play for the school."
Sampson led the Hoosiers into the second round of the NCAA
Tournament in 2006-07 and had them in position to contend for a Big
Ten title this season. He broke the school record for most
consecutive home victories at the start of a career, eclipsing the
mark set by revered coach Branch McCracken, earlier this season.
But his success on the court could not overshadow the
accusations of what he did off of it.
The 45-year-old Dakich, once considered a possible successor to
coach Bob Knight, will now get a chance to coach his alma mater. He
is the former head coach at Bowling Green and a former assistant
under Knight at Indiana. And he took the job vacated when Rob
Senderoff resigned in early November. Senderoff was also implicated
in the phone-call scandal at Indiana.
Dakich also was an assistant on Indiana's 1987 national
"I want nothing but the best for these players and the
institution," he said in a statement. "The challenge ahead is to
maintain the positive momentum that has been built within the team
and to keep everyone as focused as possible during this difficult
Assistant coach Ray McCallum, who the players wanted to take
over, became assistant head coach. McCallum was a head coach
previously at Ball State and Houston and has 25 years of coaching
experience at the college level.
Neither Dakich nor McCallum were implicated in the latest NCAA
allegations, and McCallum also was cleared of any wrongdoing while
assisting Sampson at Oklahoma.
Without Sampson around, though, the Hoosiers are hoping for a
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.