McRobbie’s last word from Seattle hearing

Where the hearing happened.

Most of what happened inside a large conference room located just off the main lobby and above the kitchen — thus allowing Kelvin Sampson to try to enter and exit without being seen — at the Hotel Deca in Seattle will remain hidden to us.

But Indiana University’s final word in the 12-hour ordeal, its final and failed plea to place the blame on its former basketball coaches and avoid a “failure to monitor” charge, has become a public record because the man who delivered it, university President Michael McRobbie, wrote it down. (He wasn’t at the hearing due to a previous engagement but delivered the speech via video conference.)

We received a copy of his closing statement, and I’ll paste it below for you to read.

NCAA Hearing Closing Comments

Michael A. McRobbie
Indiana University
June 14, 2008

Madame Chair, Committee members, first of all, I want to once again thank the Committee for your courtesy in allowing me to participate in these proceedings by videoconference. I know that it required some special arrangements and I am grateful for that.

As I have listened to the testimony— the questions and the responses over the last 2 days— I felt very strongly that I should offer my concluding perspectives on the overarching issues that have been the focus of this hearing.

I want to make it clear that this has been a valuable— if not always pleasant— experience for me as the President of this institution.

It has been noted several times that Indiana University has one of the premier men’s basketball programs in America. And, as you would expect, we take great pride in that.

But a record of athletic success is not a point of pride for a university if it is tainted by a failure to follow the rules set forth by the NCAA.

At Indiana University we have a long record of NCAA compliance, and it is a special point of pride for our students, our alumni, our staff and our fans that the success we have obtained in athletics has been achieved in a manner that has not called into question the integrity of our institution.

So it was especially painful for us to discover that certain coaches in our men’s basketball program had engaged in what we believe the evidence clearly demonstrates was an attempt to circumvent the sanctions that came with Coach Sampson when he was hired.

And, I would add, these coaches circumvented the compliance measures that had worked well at Indiana University, as well as the enhanced measures put in place when Coach Sampson was hired. 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 president of this university I will say to you today that the NCAA’s investigation— indeed our own investigation— has led me to conclude that our compliance program was comprehensive and it worked.

As I stated in my opening comments, we are here today because our compliance program uncovered these violations. We have never attempted to hide or to diminish their significance in any way. These compliance assurance measures were strong and effective … but they clearly were not perfect.

I am pleased that we uncovered these violations but I certainly wish we had done so earlier.

We have been hurt not only in terms of our competitive position on the basketball court, where what was once one of the nation’s proudest programs is in tatters, but also in terms of the university’s reputation. No longer can we say that we have had no allegations of major NCAA violations in almost a half a century. And that hurts me and Indiana University even more than the damage that has been done to the program that Coach Crean has inherited and now has to rebuild.

Some have said that there is a lot of blame to be shared in all of this, suggesting— and perhaps hoping— that there can be a dilution of personal responsibility under some notion of collective guilt. I reject that notion completely and I hope this committee will, as well.

Although it is true that all parties before this committee made some mistakes, there clearly exists a higher level of blame in this matter that we believe should be assigned to Coaches Sampson and Senderhoff. And we believe the evidence in this case strongly supports that.

As others have stated, 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.

Finally, on behalf of Indiana University, I want to express my deepest regret and apologies to the NCAA for the circumstances that led up to this hearing.

I ask you to consider our history and our culture of compliance; our transparency and full cooperation with these investigations; our current coaches and student-athletes who have no involvement in these violations; our significant self-imposed penalties; and our sincere contrition in this matter.

As President of an NCAA member institution, I appreciate the time and attention that you devote to matters such as this.

And as President of an institution under scrutiny, I am grateful for your attention to detail and your commitment to fairness.

Thank you.


  1. How did IU miss the boat on this ruling. It seems to me that IU placed the preponderance of their argument on the situation with Coaches Sampson and Senderoff. Obviously, the NCAA did not not agree and ruled that the main culprit in this affair was the university’s failure to monitor, or more precisely the phone call monitoring. I have never understood the diffucluty in doing this. I mean I check my teenaged children’s bills each month, that I’M PAYING and I monitor their incoming and outgoing calls. Not to be intrusive, but to assure nothing suspicious. It seems the university could have done the same. I know at my work our cell phone charges were greater than expected. Turned out a few sales reps were calling Directory Information too much. We changed policy and reduced the costs. I could have monitored the calls the IU coaches were making and receiving and none of this would have ever happened! How difficult can it be?

  2. “(O)ur compliance program was comprehensive and it worked” “These compliance assurance measures were strong and effective”
    Is he actually talking about the same compliance dept. that sat on phone records for 13 months?!? The same compliance dept. that had no problem with Sampson missing over 75% of the weekly compliance meetings?!? Really?!?!

    Here’s the real riddler: “These coaches circumvented the compliance measures that had worked well at Indiana University, as well as the enhanced measures put in place when Coach Sampson was hired”?
    What compliance measures were already in place? What constitutes our “enhanced measures?” I’m still wondering how the “3W” calls went undetected for 13 months. What did our prodigious intern do differently than the rest of compliance? Was he the only literate jock in the whole dept?

  3. Chronic………..good questions.

    MM says … “As I stated in my opening comments, we are here today because our compliance program uncovered these violations. We have never attempted to hide or to diminish their significance in any way. These compliance assurance measures were strong and effective … but they clearly were not perfect.

    I am pleased that we uncovered these violations but I certainly wish we had done so earlier

    This one is key to me. Yes, they did know earlier and RG shut the lid. This letter from MM is one last attempt to say ….Hey, the garage is now entirely clean, let us shut the door on this mess.

  4. Keep in mind that if IU did not report the illegal calls then more than likely no one including the NCAA would not have found out. Even though we uncovered and reported the violations we are still getting hit with the “failure to monitor” allegation. What that tells me is it does no good to report yourself, so all you schools out there don’t look and then you will not have to tell.

  5. This letter was written with plans already underway for the RG departure. Close connections tell me that the RG cut was the most successful clandestine operation in athletic dept. history. It was kept silent for a long, long time.

    I read some very detailed words in this letter that avoid an out and out lie. MM is IU’s most respectable person not involved in this mess. The letter is appropriate………I guess?

  6. I am here to tell you……failure to monitor = RG knew and would not let compliance speak.

  7. Chronic and Mark,

    I see your points, but at the same time, some of the illegal calls came from home phone lines. The coaches were required to disclose whether they used their home phones (land lines) for recruiting or not, and checked off that they had not when in fact they had. Lacking just cause to request their home phone records, IU had no real way to monitor those lines, except on the phone logs that these coaches falsified. The violations based on cell phones (that I presume IU pays for) and land lines in IU buildings being used, yes, IU should probably have caught those more quickly. But as for the calls from the coaches’ homes, I don’t see how IU can rightly be blamed for those.

    And, it is worth noting that even though a delay was involved, an IU employee (well, intern) did catch the impermissible calls, so at least at that point, we were monitoring the situation. For what it’s worth.

  8. ww,

    If your sources are good and what you say is correct, I don’t know why we bothered to keep the secret so long. Running Greenspan off with Sampson would have been the thing to do. Keeping him around until last week probably motivated the NCAA to add the ‘failure to monitor’ charge, because through the date of the hearing, he was on staff and that makes IU complicit in ‘failure to monitor.’

  9. Not to be negative…but I’ve never heard. Did someone just forget to tell the intern?…hey, if you find anything on Sampson, that looks suspicious…just keep it quiet.
    I’m really made to wonder.
    I’m with Mark W…how hard can it be…13 months..c’ just don’t all add up.
    I really HATE to say it..I really do…but I’m willing to the time..if we (the team) didn’t look like we was going to make serious runs….look good on paper…the whistle would have blown earlier.
    Thats my inner feeling. As much as I hate to say it. Hated to disrupt the potiential coming up.
    Fate has a way of seeing thru things.

  10. Eric – you make valid points on the land line issue. However, I have heard on the compliance meetings..Sampson hardly ever attended. No excuse for the Admin to let “this go”. As the main individual being watched or simply knowing what was expected…he should have attended. When he didn’t, the admin. should have stepped up and required it.
    MM says “enhanced” measures…as someone else asked?
    What enhanced measeures? Simply too many gaps to be second guessed.

  11. Just from what I have heard Eric. I think the key person to talk to would be Jennifer Brinegar. I am guessing she knows the real story. I think her transfer was a significant piece of the puzzle. She could explain the RG move.

    In reality, I am more about moving on. What is done is done. It is time to support Crean and team. It would be nice tho, to support a program with integrity. I have to trust that we now can.

  12. WW,

    I hate to rain on your parade here, but if it is true that Greenspan tried to cover everything up, and the NCAA found out about this…IT WOULD HAVE LED to a “Lack of Institutional Control” instead of the lesser “Failure to Monitor” charge.

  13. I thought “lack of institutional control” was only brought when more than one of the schools programs were doing shady dealings. Could have swore I read that somewhere.

    Time to move on folks. Dont you feel like we have been rehashing this for months now?


  14. I have read stories/comments about the good Greenspan has done. Focus on football because it is the big money maker at other schools. Agree that upgrading football program is a good thing. But, is more seats really the right thing? If you can’t fill the ones you got, why more? Coaching hires in football… GREAT! B-ball not so good. Why not hire b-ball coach on same standard that IU is known for. Then how about 25,000 seats for b-ball. Betting they would sell-out with a coach that fit the integrity the program used to have. Just an opinion.

  15. This Kelvin Sampson bashing…all over 10 three way phone calls the NCAA can’t even prove occurred.

    IU is responsible for Sampson’s assistants, not Sampson. IU took any control Kelvin had regarding his assistants and phone calls away.

    So, at the end of the day — we’re left with 10 three way phone calls with evidence based off the testimony of rivals who don’t recount the same story.

    Seriously, phone calls, Indiana. Phone calls. 10 three way phone calls the NCAA can’t even prove.

    Just read some of the garbage that IU’s administration and many of their fans are putting out there. It’s incredible. All because a guy is accused of answering ten phone calls over the course of a year.

    You’ve gotta be kidding me. This is out of control. Life is so much bigger, and there are so many more important things to worry about.

    The NCAA, college basketball, and the state of Indiana need to get a perspective on life and what matters.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a human being dragged through the mud over something as unbelievably meaningless as phone calls. It should be a case study.

  16. HoosierFan,

    It’s not the phone calls that have caused the trouble, per se; it’s that they broke rules that were established and had been explained to Sampson. I guess you could say it’s the principle of the thing. Not that 10 phone calls (I actually thought it was about 100 that broke one rule or another) are that bad, but rules are rules and if you minimize the breaking of them, you invite a gradual slide into lawlessness, be it in recruiting or life.

    And if you think that Sampson bore no responsibility for the conduct of his assistants, you’re not living in the real world. Ultimately, IU is responsible for its employees, as is any employer; but that responsibility is administered on many levels, starting with the direct-report supervisor, which in this case was Sampson.

  17. I agree with Hoosierfan – this whole huge scandal has come up from a few marginally allowable phone calls – calls that would have been perfectly fine if Sampson handn’t been on probation. HOWEVER… there was no reason for Sampson and Senderoff to break the rules and they had to know if they broke even the most trivial rules the consequences would be dire. This is the Indiana University Basketball Program for crissakes – you don’t have to break the rules to be successful. It’s like if your dad tells you that he’s going to smack you in the head if you say the word ‘pickle’ again and you tell him to tell it to your pickle. You’re either crazy or just want beat – the only question is which describes Sampson?

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