I’m not gloating; Indiana deserves it

By Jeremy Werner

Many Illini fans rejoiced Wednesday when an NCAA report revealed Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson committed five “major” violations of NCAA rules.

This latest twist in the Indiana-Illinois soap opera gives Illini fans more firepower to attack Hoosier fans on blogs and message boards, especially in the wake of a demoralizing 83-79 double-overtime loss to the Hoosiers last week.

But my take on the situation is not the result of my allegiance to the Orange and Blue. Rather, it is a simple, critical examination – Indiana got what it deserved.

When an athletic department hires a high-profile coach who broke NCAA rules several times at his previous gig, it cannot expect that same coach to adopt a high standard of ethics.

Yet, Indiana hired Sampson.

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    Rick Greenspan, the Indiana University athletic director, reacted to the NCAA report saying he is “professionally and profoundly disappointed with even the hint of inappropriate behavior.”

    Maybe Greenspan forgot to research Sampson’s history at Oklahoma before he hired the former Sooner coach.

    Sampson left Oklahoma amid an NCAA investigation for recruiting violations. When the investigation closed in May 2006, less than two months after Sampson took the Indiana job, the NCAA found that Sampson and his staff made 577 illegal phone calls to 17 recruits between 2000 and 2004.

    Yet, Indiana hired Sampson.

    Ironically, Sampson was the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches when the organization created an ethics committee in 2003 to address problems with violations in college basketball. This same committee put Sampson on a three-year probation in 2006, during which he cannot be considered for Coach of the Year honors or serve on the NABC in any capacity.

    Yet, Indiana hired Sampson.

    Even after Sampson left for Indiana, the NCAA banned Sampson from calling recruits and making off-campus visits for a year.

    Indiana performed an investigation into Sampson and his staff that was separate from the NCAA’s and found that Sampson made more than 100 impermissible calls. Indiana imposed an in-house probation on Sampson, prohibiting him from making calls or leaving campus to recruit. He was forced to forfeit his $500,000 raise and the university docked him a scholarship.

    Yet, Indiana kept Sampson.

    Wednesday’s report also stated that Sampson provided “false information” to both Indiana and the NCAA during their respective investigations into possible recruiting violations.

    Indiana has 90 days to respond to the NCAA and will likely take the entire 90 days to investigate the matter itself.

    Sampson did what Indiana wanted in signing in-state recruit Eric Gordon and coaching Indiana to a top-20 ranking, but his actions belittle the prestigious Hoosier basketball program and the university.

    Right now, the program does not look attractive to possible recruits and their parents, while in-state rival Purdue closes in on a conference title – controversy-free.

    Former Indiana coach Mike Davis resigned amid criticism after a number of underachieving seasons, but at least he followed the rules. Indiana now has to ask itself whether it values winning more than abiding by the rules.

    Sampson denied the NCAA allegations Wednesday night following the Hoosiers’ 68-66 home loss to Wisconsin.

    “I have never intentionally provided false or misleading information to the NCAA,” Sampson said. “I intend to work within the NCAA process on this matter, and I look forward to my opportunity to do so.”

    Sampson’s job security is unclear. Some think he may finish out the season, while other reports say he may be dismissed at any time.

    If the NCAA allegations are true, it is time for Indiana to fire Sampson.

    Jeremy Werner is a junior in Communications and can be reached at [email protected].