Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sampson receives NCAA's harshest penalty
By Andy Katz
Kelvin Sampson resigned as Indiana coach last February amid a burgeoning scandal over NCAA recruiting violations involving improper telephone calls. Now, the NCAA is taking the step to ensure he can't coach a college program for at least five years.
Sampson, now an assistant with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, received a five-year show-cause penalty -- one of the harshest the NCAA can levy against an individual -- while the Hoosiers' program has been spared a postseason ban.
Indiana's self-imposed penalties were upheld but the Hoosiers also received three years' probation.
"From the very beginning of these proceedings, we cooperated fully with the NCAA and, in fact, imposed severe recruiting penalties on our men's basketball program," Indiana president Michael McRobbie said. "Although I still believe the failure to monitor charge was unjustified, I am glad that the NCAA has accepted our self-imposed penalties with no further sanctions except a three-year probationary period."
In its report, the NCAA committee said:
"A head coach does not promote compliance when he intentionally ignores committee penalties directed at him for intentional rules violations. A head coach also does not promote compliance when he himself commits intentional violations. This is particularly true when he commits these violations with the knowledge and assistance of a coach on his staff."
Indiana was accused of four major NCAA violations that stemmed from more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits by Sampson and his assistant coaches during his first season in Bloomington. Sampson resigned under pressure, short of completing his second season, after accepting a $750,000 buyout.
Sampson was still on NCAA-imposed probation as Indiana's coach for his involvement in similar offenses committed while the coach at Oklahoma. Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager, the chair of the NCAA infractions committee during Sampson's Oklahoma case, said a five-year show cause would not be out of line for a coach who had recently appeared in front of the committee.
The most serious charge against Sampson was that he provided false information to NCAA enforcement staff members and Indiana compliance officers, something the coach has denied. The investigation began in July 2007, a little more than a year after he was hired away from Oklahoma. Once the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches at a time when the NABC held an ethics summit in Chicago following a string of high-profile NCAA cases, Sampson was not allowed to send text messages to or call recruits when he first arrived at Indiana.
Sampson was replaced at Indiana by interim coach Dan Dakich, then caught on with the Bucks. His entire staff eventually was dismantled, with assistant Ray McCallum getting the head-coaching job at Detroit, Jeff Meyer hired as an assistant at Michigan, and Rob Senderoff joining Kent State's staff.
"I'm deeply disappointed in today's findings by the NCAA, but the accusations at hand are things that happened on my watch and therefore I will take responsibility," Sampson said in a statement. "I am truly sorry that there were so many people who were hurt in this situation. For the sake of everyone involved, including my family, it is time to move on."
"We knew that potentially something could be occurring," Bucks general manager John Hammond said by phone from Atlanta, where he was with the Bucks in preparation for Wednesday night's game against the Hawks.
"But we also thought here is a man that has done a lot of great things over the years in college basketball and he's been a good coach. He's done many, many good things. We thought it was an opportunity to hire a quality coach and we felt a quality person. We felt it was the right thing for us and our organization. We'll stand by that today."
The fallout also hit Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan, who is finishing out the calendar year after resigning under pressure. He will be succeeded by Indianapolis attorney Fred Glass.
"This was a one-time deviation from a half-century record of having no major NCAA infractions,"
McRobbie, the Indiana president, said. "The coaches who were directly involved in this are no longer employed by Indiana University. And, we are very determined never to allow anything like this to happen again."
Meanwhile, the NCAA punished Senderoff with a three-year show cause penalty. Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy told ESPN.com Tuesday night that the Golden Flashes would accept the sanctions against Senderoff in principle, although they will ask for some clarification from the NCAA.
Kennedy said that Kent State is committed to keeping Senderoff on staff as an assistant coach despite the three-year show cause penalty handed down Tuesday.
"He's an integral part of our staff and we look at the long-term value of him on the court and heading up our academic efforts," Kennedy said. "They far outweigh the sanctions. Rob is a part of the program and we knew this [the sanctions] was happening and that's why we put in place things to accommodate it when it came down. I think we can manage it and we're in a position to move forward."
First-year Indiana coach Tom Crean, who came from Marquette, has had to contend with running a program that has just one returning scholarship player. When Indiana lost to Notre Dame by 38 points in the Maui Invitational on Monday, it was the Hoosiers' largest margin of defeat in nearly 11 years.
"It's bittersweet," Crean said from Maui. "We didn't want to lose postseason, scholarships or television. Thank god we didn't lose any of those so we can continue to move the program without the what-ifs."
There are nine scholarship players on Indiana's roster after the program relinquished one scholarship as part of its self-imposed sanctions. Indiana took away an additional two scholarships in a separate decision based on an expected poor Academic Progress Report.
Underclassmen who transferred out or left for the NBA following Sampson's departure -- Eric Gordon (L.A. Clippers), DeAndre Thomas (NAIA Robert Morris), Eli Holman (sitting out at Detroit), Armon Bassett (sitting out at UAB), Jordan Crawford (sitting out at Xavier) and Brandon McGee (sitting out at Auburn) -- can now be found all over the map.
Crawford is appealing to play at Xavier right away without sitting out the required year-in-residence, and a separate NCAA committee would handle this case. But Indiana would have to support Crawford's case and Crean hasn't been open to the idea because he can't get his own transfer, former Georgetown guard Jeremiah Rivers, eligible immediately.
And, with Indiana not facing a postseason ban, Crawford has less of a case. The NCAA has granted immediate eligibility waivers to transfers fleeing schools under NCAA sanctions in cases where a postseason ban extends beyond the player's remaining eligibility. Yet Crawford is only a sophomore, so his scenario does not apply.
"It is time to move on and put this episode behind us," McRobbie said. "We have a new coach and an almost entirely new team, and they should not have to worry about being penalized for things that happened before they were even here."
Indiana officials appeared in front of the NCAA's committee on infractions in June and, in addition, fought a separate charge of a failure to monitor the basketball program. During the hearings, two former friends, Sampson and Crean, did not speak.
Indiana, which opened the season with home wins over Northwestern State and IUPUI, lost to Saint Joseph's 80-54 in the Maui Invitational's consolation round Tuesday.
Because the NCAA's membership is made up of schools, penalties imposed are directed toward the schools, not individuals. A show-cause penalty means a future employer needs to demonstrate to the COI that sufficient disciplinary action against the coach has been taken since he or she has been found to violate NCAA rules.
If a future employer decided against imposing what the COI did, then that school would have to appear in front of the committee to explain its position. It is rare for a university not to impose sanctions against an individual.
There have been a number of coaches in a variety of sports who have received a show-cause punishment. Former Cal basketball coach Todd Bozeman was given an eight-year show cause, but it took him 10 years to finally get hired, by Morgan State. As Bozeman has said, getting a job after receiving such punishment is extremely difficult.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
• Public reprimand and censure.
• Three years of probation (Nov. 25, 2008, to Nov. 24, 2011).
• Five-year show-cause order, which includes significant recruiting restrictions, for the former head coach (Nov. 25, 2008, to Nov. 24, 2013) (Kelvin Sampson).
• Three-year show-cause order, which also includes significant recruiting restrictions, for the former assistant coach (Nov. 25, 2008, to Nov. 24, 2011) (Rob Senderoff).
• A reduction of one men's basketball scholarship. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• The number of available July 2008 off-campus recruiting days was reduced by two. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• The number of recruiting opportunities available to the men's basketball staff for one of the prospective student-athletes was reduced from seven to six during both his junior and senior years in high school; the number of available off-campus contacts during his senior year was reduced from three to two. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• Former head coach was limited to four off-campus recruiting contact days during the fall 2007 contact period. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• From Sept. 17, 2007, through July 31, 2008, the number of men's basketball coaches involved in recruiting was reduced by one. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• The number of 2007-08 official paid visits available to the men's basketball staff was reduced from 12 to eight. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• From the end of the fall contact period, the head coach (former, interim and current) was limited to 20 off-campus recruiting days. (Self-imposed by the institution.)
• From Sept. 17, 2007, through the end of the regular National Letter of Intent signing period on May 21, 2008, the number of phone calls that could be made to prospects on or after Aug. 1 of their senior year in high school was reduced from two to one call weekly. (Self-imposed by the institution.)