Hick Flick, McD, Phillips and myself all graduated from IU. Three of us covered the men’s basketball team and have a unique insight into what Indiana basketball means. We, as 80 percent of the alumni, love IU hoops.
Now, we live in fear of what the NCAA might do concerning the five major violations Sampson has brought onto the school. For a university that hasn’t had a major NCAA infraction in any sport since 1960, the news that Sampson has sullied the reputation of IU is quite disturbing. But there’s an old saying, “When you dance with the devil, you’re likely to get burned.” Sampson had a checkered past at Oklahoma. IU athletics director Rick Greenspan knew that and hired him anyways. “It was only phone calls,” Greenspan rationaled at the time.
Well, it looks like “only phone calls” might set the IU program back a few years. And to be honest whatever punishment the NCAA imposes on Indiana is justified. IU’s administration has until May to respond to the violations before a June hearing to determine the severity of the punishment. So a ban on this year’s postseason is out of the question. But next year and the following season are open game. And don’t expect the NCAA to go easy on IU.
Granted, Sampson got pinched for making phone calls, not paying players, not fixing tests. But a rule is a rule. And it’s especially important to follow when you’ve been caught violating it less than two years earlier, are on probation and know the NCAA is going to closely observe your actions.
Here’s a taste of what the NCAA sent IU this week:
“Sampson participated in the three-way telephone conversations despite being instructed not to do so by the institution’s compliance staff and despite received specific clarification from the Committee on Infractions that three-way class were prohibited.”
“Concerning Sampson’s provision of false or misleading information, Sampson repeatedly provided the institution and the enforcement staff false information regarding his involvement in violations of the Committee on Infractions’ recruiting restrictions.”
The NCAA sanctions schools for coaches unknowingly breaking rules. Here’s a coach, who had been caught in the past, placed on probation, sat down and told by the NCAA what could and couldn’t do and still broke the rules. And on top of that, he lied to IU administrators about it.
Already this season, Sampson has suspended A.J. Ratliff (no longer with the team) for a semester for academic reasons. He suspended Jordan Crawford and Armon Bassett a few games for violating team rules. So what should happen to their coach, who has been caught with five, count them, five “major” NCAA infractions. If I’m Greenspan, I suspend Sampson for tonight’s game against Wisconsin and for the foreseeable future at the least, if not fire him on the spot.
It is stipulated in Sampson’s contract that if he is caught violating his NCAA-sanctioned probation stemming from his missteps at Oklahoma, that the University will have “just cause” in terminating his contract immediately with no further financial implications. Hey Greenspan, make the call. Heck, your head should be on the chopping block too for bringing this snake to Bloomington in the first place.
Sampson should trade in his trademark blue denim shirt and red tie for an orange jump suit because he’s robbed a crown jewel of college basketball it’s integrity and given the school’s storied tradition a black eye.
If I’m at tonight’s game, I boo Sampson. I don’t boo the team. Only Sampson. It’s far less than what he deserves. He deserves a cell phone chucked from Section JJ to the head.
Sampson should do the honorable thing and step aside and let assistants Dan Dakich and Ray McCallum, the only two not mentioned in the NCAA report to assume control of the team for the rest of the season. But one thing we’ve learned from this (and perhaps already known) is that Sampson is far from honorable.