A new era begins

A new era begins

Kelvin Sampson named 26th IU men’s basketball coach

By Doug Wilson, H-T sports writer

March 30, 2006

Kelvin Sampson acknowledges fans in the bleachers Wednesday at Assembly Hall after being introduced as the new IU men’s basketball coach. John Harrell | Associated Press
From the March 30, 2006 Bloomington Herald-Times

Kelvin Sampson walked onto the Assembly Hall floor Wednesday to a standing ovation from hundreds of Hoosier basketball fans.

He stepped to the microphone and said he hoped they’d feel the same way a year from now.

“We’ll still be playing,” a young man yelled in response, drawing a smile from the new Hoosier coach.

While people may not actually expect Sampson to have the Hoosiers in the Final Four at this time next year, there wasn’t much doubt about the level of expectations at the news conference to announce IU had hired Sampson.

“With the support of the entire IU family, all of you here today, and those watching the press conference around the country, the next decade will be one marked by the resurgence of Indiana University to the ranks of the very best basketball programs in America,” IU President Adam Herbert said.

Sampson will sign a seven-year contract with an average compensation of $1.5 million per year, IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan said.

That compensation package will put Sampson close to the salary levels of some of the best-known college coaches in the country.

According to published reports, Kentucky’s Tubby Smith earns $1.9 million per year. A few other coaches who make more than Sampson will include Marquette’s Tom Crean at $1.65 million, Louisville’s Rick Pitino at $1.64 million and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo at $1.6 million.

Greenspan said IU will use private donations to help pay for Sampson’s contract and that a significant sum already has been raised.

Greenspan wouldn’t identify how many candidates he weighed before choosing Sampson, saying only it was “between two and 20.”

Sampson was the best coach for IU because of the strengths he brings, Greenspan said, even though there are concerns about a pending NCAA investigation at the University of Oklahoma and about player graduation rates there.

Greenspan said he spoke with numerous colleagues in college and pro basketball to get input about Sampson.

“Those I trust kept telling me the same thing,” Greenspan said. “He is one great guy. He’s got a great family. He’s a heck of a coach.

“He will bring toughness and team discipline to our program. I think we need that to compete in the Big Ten.”

Herbert tackled concerns about Sampson head-on in his remarks to the crowd. He said IU trustees Steve Ferguson and Jeffrey Cohen helped in conducting an extensive analysis of Sampson’s background, including the NCAA investigation and graduation rates.

That review, and hours of conversation with Sampson, convinced Herbert that IU’s new coach will meet all expectations.

“There is no question that wins and losses are very important to the Hoosier family,” Herbert said. “Equally important to us are very high academic expectations and the core character values of the university.”

The ongoing NCAA investigation involves Sampson and other Oklahoma coaches making more than 550 impermissible phone calls to recruits from 2000-04.

For these violations, the university has adopted self-imposed penalties that include freezing Sampson’s salary between July 2005 to June 2007 and a reduction in scholarships last season and next season.

The NCAA will hold a hearing next month to determine if it will impose any additional penalties.

When asked about the infractions, Sampson said his staff didn’t take the rules about phone calls seriously enough and the embarrassment that’s come from committing an NCAA violation prompted him to re-evaluate and improve Oklahoma’s entire system for complying with NCAA rules.

Greenspan said the NCAA infractions are a red flag, but he and others involved with the coaching search were able to overlook them because they aren’t a pattern throughout Sampson’s career.

“There’s some aspects of his program where he needs to prove himself at a higher level perhaps to meet the expectations that we have,” Greenspan said. “There are also a lot of places where his level of capability and success is absolutely terrific.”

Sampson said that while most coaches will be at a national coaches’ convention and the Final Four in Indianapolis over the weekend, he’ll stay in Bloomington to hold individual and group meetings with his new players.

“The young men that I met in that room today become my sole piece of work,” Sampson said. “I want to spend every waking hour with them.

“I need to coach a team, and this team needs a coach. I came to Indiana for one reason. I think we can win championships at Indiana.”