Sampson explains phone usage

Kelvin Sampson’s explanation for why he believes he never knowingly broke recruiting rules by taking part in a three-way calls has remained fairly consistent. He only ever allowed the media about 10 questions on the subject — and that is probably a high estimate — but each time anyone asked, he repeatedly maintained that he was in the habit of not looking at his cell phone’s caller ID function because he was so excited to be receiving a cell phone call — remember he was not allowed to be making recruiting calls — that he answered as quickly as possible. Therefore, he never saw that the calls were coming from Rob Senderoff and not the recruit (or parent or coach) whose voice was on the other end.

Judging from my conversations with you, our dear readers, this explanation never quite made even the tiniest iota of sense to you. It apparently doesn’t to the NCAA, either.

In the Case Summary released today, the NCAA lays out the reasons it does not believe Sampson’s contention that he never knew he was on three-way calls. First and foremost, it dismisses that possibility with the testimony of 10 people who remember taking part in a call during which Sampson and Senderoff were talking simultaneously.

But the NCAA also shreds Sampson’s contention that he never thought he was on a three-way call because he never looked at his caller ID by using testimony from none other than Sampson himself. They had the benefit of forcing him to talk.

Sampson admits that the numbers popped up on his cell phone screen. He also explains that he often had a sheet of numbers, apparently given to him by his staff, that corresponded to the players who might call him that night. Here’s a bit of his interview:

Q: You could actually see the numbers?

Sampson: Sometimes, sometimes it wouldn’t matter. If it was a number that wasn’t plugged in, uh, as, uh, I would answer the phone not knowing who it was and, like, take my sheet and see if that, uh, corresponded.

The way the NCAA is apparently reading this answer is that Sampson did, in fact, almost always look to see what popped up on his caller ID so that he could then compare the number to the list of numbers that belonged to recruits who might call. During the same interview that produced the above quotes, Sampson’s lawyer, Mike Glazier, asked him to clarify on the subject of whether he looked at the screen on his phone.

Q: There’s also an assumption in the question that you look at the, at the caller ID each time you answer it, and you need to tell him whether that is or is not the case.

Sampson: No. I don’t always look at the caller ID, wouldn’t have mattered. I had to take the call and if it’s a number I didn’t recognize, I’m trying to search to see who it is . . . .

I am sure that the above statement makes sense to Sampson, even though it reads as if he’s saying he didn’t always look at the caller ID but always did look to see who was calling, presumably by using the numbers that popped up on the caller ID screen. But Sampson has declined my requests to speak with him about this subject.

Finally, the NCAA takes umbrage with another Sampson claim. He argued in his response that the caller ID on his home phone did not register until after the second ring. But he also argues that his home phone was set up to go to voice mail after the second ring. Ergo, Sampson could never see the caller ID on his home phone because he had to answer the phone immediately or risk missing the call and having it sent to voice mail. Here’s the NCAA’s take on that explanation:

The enforcement staff also points out that it would have been illogical for Sampson to have had his phone system set up in this manner because by doing so, it would have greatly increased the chance that Sampson would miss a call from a prospect. In his November 13, 2007, and January 29, 2008, interviews with the enforcement staff and the institution, Sampson repeatedly stated that he could not afford to miss phone calls from prospects because he could not call them back. Given the emphasis Sampson placed on the necessity to answer every call in order to avoid missing a call from a prospect, it seems inconsistent that he would have his home phone system set up in a way that would substantially increase the likelihood of a call going to voicemail before he could answer it.


  1. If any of you guys believe my answers about my caller ID, I’d be interested in selling you the ocean-front property I own in Oklahoma.

  2. Wow. Gotta love the NCAA’s take on this. It’s obvious that he didn’t set his phone system up that way because he’d miss a prospect. I can’t wait to hear Sampson’s stuttering response to that one!

  3. Uh , what, uh, is it with, uh, these, people, uh not speaking, uh, well, they’re uh, college, uh grads, uh, right.

  4. I just KNEW Sampson hosed us when he stole EJ from us. I think they should forfeit the game they stole from us when EJ hit one with his eyes closed.

  5. Of course, the media in Bloomington wouldn’t want this to come out:

    A high school coach has provided phone records and a statement that refutes one of the 10 impermissible three-way phone calls allegedly made by former Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson, a source told

    Sampson, who resigned from Indiana in February, has been charged with making more than 100 phone calls in violation of NCAA rules, including three-way phone calls. Because of recruiting violations Sampson incurred while at Oklahoma University, he was prohibited in participating in three-way calls if they originated with a member of his coaching staff.

    According to the source, a recruit told the NCAA that former Indiana assistant coach Rob Senderhoff called Sampson while visiting him at his high school and then turned the phone over to the recruit, a violation.

    However the high school coach has turned over his phone records and provided a statement that indicates that he — not Senderhoff — placed the call directly to Sampson.

    The NCAA has received written notice as well as copies of the phone records regarding the discrepancy.

    Sampson is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions for his hearing next Friday.

    The source said Sampson hopes the committee will look more carefully at the other phone calls now that one has been disproven and take that into consideration before rendering its decision. The NCAA is not expected to annouonce its ruling until early August.

  6. Hey Kelvin, my 3-year old suggests simply turning your answering machine off while you are at home if you don’t want to miss any calls.

  7. Toast – just for clarification, the transcripts are verbatim, so any time an interviewer/interviewee paused or made an involuntary sound (e.g. “uh”) they recorded it. Most people fall into this pattern, particularly when formulating answers on the fly.


    and BTW, regarding the main topic: with the information/transcripts that’ve now come out from IU and the NCAA, it’s clear that Sampson is a liar who put his interests above the school’s. The lack of discipline that manifested itself after his dismissal was evidence enough, but this info places the entire fiasco on Sampson’s shoulders. Unforgivable and a sign of a core character flaw. He should never be able to put another college program at risk again.

  8. HoosierFan,

    Of course we’d want that story to come out.

    And I will tell you right now that there are other phone calls in question.

    But as has been the case throughout our reporting, we mostly have access to the documents put together by IU and, eventually, the NCAA. Sampson points out discrepancies in his response to the NCAA (he made his public) and I have to believe that Senderoff (who has not made his public) does, too. But, as you can see, the NCAA is pushing on and still feels it has plenty of evidence.

    The NCAA has already dropped dozens of calls that were once thought to be impermissible from the list of charges because of information they gathered throughout the investigation, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see others tossed out due to lack of evidence.

    Whether it becomes a situation where the NCAA’s case is completely undermined remains to be seen.

    But do you really think that if we had found this story we would have not run it? Get serious. We got beat by ESPN — the most powerful media corporation in sports — and will try to follow up on the story.

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