Sampson likely for IU

Sampson likely for IU

Kelvin Sampson expected to leave Oklahoma for IU

by Doug Wilson, H-T sports writer

March 28, 2006

Head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners Kelvin Sampson gives a thumbs up to some of the Sooner fans toward the final minute of their practice on March 29, 2002. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
From the Mar. 28, 2006 Bloomington Herald-Times

Even Kelvin Sampson’s players had no idea their coach was considering leaving Oklahoma for Indiana University.

After days of furious speculation among Hoosier fans about who the next IU basketball coach would be, the news that arrived Tuesday afternoon had to be a surprise to many.

Several different coaches had been rumored in recent days to be potential IU targets, but Sampson’s name was rarely mentioned.

The 50-year-old has coached at Oklahoma for 12 years, compiling a 279-109 record. He lost to IU in his only trip to the Final Four in 2002.

Sampson issued a statement Tuesday afternoon. “I love my job at Oklahoma and I would not leave Oklahoma for any job unless it was a job like Indiana,” Sampson said in the statement, reported on the Web site of Oklahoma City’s NewsChannel 4.

“My family and I have had 12 great years at Oklahoma, the best years of our life, but Indiana is one of the greatest programs in college basketball, and if they call and offer, it is a job as a coach that you have to take.”

IU has made no announcement about Sampson. IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre and IU basketball spokesman Aaron Jordan said they had no information about IU hiring Sampson.

Various sources say an IU news conference announcing the hiring could come as early as this afternoon. But there has been no official word from IU about a news conference.

Reports say Sampson told his players at noon Tuesday that he will be IU’s next coach.

According to Oklahoma center Longar Longar, quoted in the Oklahoman, players received a text message Tuesday morning announcing a meeting with Sampson.

“Coach walked in and told us he’s making a tough decision,” Longar said. “Well, he made it over the weekend when he was offered the Indiana job. He said he’s taking it.

“It was real quiet in the room. Coach Sampson had done a lot of great things in 12 years here. So, none of us saw this coming.”

In addition to putting together nine straight 20-win seasons at Oklahoma, Sampson was named national coach of the year in 1995 and 2002.

The Sooners finished 20-9 overall and 11-5 in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma was a sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost to 11th-seeded Milwaukee-Wisconsin in the first round.

One possible cloud over Sampson’s hiring is an ongoing NCAA investigation of his program at Oklahoma for violations of rules about phone calls to basketball recruits.

Oklahoma has recently submitted a response to the NCAA explaining the circumstances that led to more than 550 impermissible telephone contacts with at least 17 recruits. The contacts were made by Sampson and three assistant coaches between April 2000 and September 2004.

What the Sam Hill is a Sooner?

As if we don’t spend enough time trying to explain what a Hoosier is, now that Kelvin Sampson is coming here from Oklahoma, we have to know what a Sooner is!

The origin of the Oklahoma nickname is a little less murky than the origin of Indiana’s, which is still open to dispute.

Here’s the story, as related on askyahoo.com:

In 1889, the U.S. government opened up 2 million acres of Oklahoma Territory to homesteaders.

To claim a lot of land, prospective settlers had to participate in a land run. They lined up and waited for the blast of a shotgun to signal the beginning of the run, at which point they would race eagerly to claim a homestead. A “Sooner” was someone who snuck past the territory markers ahead of the gunshot to get an early start.

Today Oklahoma is known as the Sooner State, and the various athletic teams of the University of Oklahoma are called the Sooners. The official mascot of the University of Oklahoma is the Sooner Schooner, a covered wagon drawn by two horses named Sooner and Boomer, and the school fight song is “Boomer Sooner.”

So what is a Boomer, you ask? According to the school’s Web site, “Boomers where those who by constant agitation tried to bring about the opening of Oklahoma to settlers before 1889.”

And with that we’ll leave you with these inspirational words:

“I’m a Sooner-born and Sooner-bred, and when I die, I’ll be Sooner-dead.”