IU says Sampson penalties are fair

IU says Sampson penalties are fair

By Steve Hinnefeld, Herald-Times

May 26, 2006

Indiana University officials said NCAA penalties imposed on IU men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson were fair, reasonable and do nothing to shake their confidence that Sampson is the right coach for Indiana.

“I guess my inclination is, we expected this, it’s nice to have it behind us and let’s move on,” said Steve Ferguson, president of the IU board of trustees.

An NCAA infractions committee strongly criticized Sampson Thursday for making illegal phone calls to recruits as coach at the University of Oklahoma. The panel barred Sampson from calling recruits or making off-campus recruiting visits for one year. It noted that IU had adopted other penalties, including a freeze on Sampson’s salary.

IU hired Sampson March 29 to a seven-year contract. He will be paid $1.1 million the first year and $1.61 million a year after that. Indiana officials said they will work with the NCAA to apply the recruiting restrictions and will not pursue an appeal.

“IU takes great pride in the fact that we have had no major NCAA violations in 46 years,” IU President Adam Herbert said. “We are fully committed to maintaining this exceptional record.”

Herbert called Sampson “a man of great integrity” and said he provided full disclosure about the violations at Oklahoma.

Ferguson said university officials expected criticism over Sampson’s NCAA violations and didn’t think Thursday’s announcement would reignite criticism.

“There was some chorus of that initially, but I think people who have met (Sampson), met the coaching staff and gotten to know him have quickly put those concerns behind them,” he said.

Jeff Cohen, a trustee who consulted with Athletic Director Rick Greenspan on the coaching search, said he would have preferred no penalties, but wasn’t surprised by the ruling.

“This was in my realm of thinking,” he said. “If they had limited our scholarships or made him not be able to coach for a year … those were things I was hopeful wouldn’t happen.”

Trustees’ Vice President Pat Shoulders said Sampson’s reputation and record will help offset the limits on his recruiting. “I think what they’ll have to do now is rely upon assistant coaches to get recruits to Bloomington,” he said.

Shoulders said Sampson is eager to coach, and IU officials are confident he will be successful. He said Thursday’s news should clear the air.

“I think the best thing about this is that it’s done,” he said.