Sampson sanctioned

Sampson sanctioned

NCAA hands down penalties for violations at Oklahoma

By Doug Wilson, H-T sports writer

May 25, 2006

IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan, men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and President Adam Herbert March 29 at the announcement of Sampson as Indiana’s new men’s basketball coach. Sampson was sanctioned by the NCAA Thursday for recruiting violations while he was coach at the University of Oklahoma. David Snodgress | Herald-Times
From the May. 26, 2006 Bloomington Herald-Times

The NCAA Committee on Infractions strongly criticized Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson Thursday and prohibited him from making recruiting phone calls or taking recruiting trips for one year.

The committee announced its findings and penalties Thursday afternoon from its investigation that began with an anonymous tip in 2001.

The report said Sampson and his basketball coaching staff at Oklahoma created a significant recruiting advantage by making 577 impermissible recruiting phone calls between 2000 and 2004.

Thomas Yeager, acting chair of the infractions committee, said that during his nine years on the committee he’d never seen a case where so many impermissible phone calls had been made.

“This case is a result of (Sampson’s) complete disregard for NCAA guidelines for proper telephone contact with recruits,” Yeager said. “(Sampson) created and encouraged an atmosphere among his staff of deliberate noncompliance, rationalizing the violations as being a result of ‘prioritizing rules’ rules.”

Of the 17 recruits who received the 577 impermissible calls, five enrolled at Oklahoma and another signed a letter of intent to go there, according to the report.

Sampson, whom IU hired in March, was identified as making 233 of the impermissible calls. The committee said he fostered an environment of “deliberate noncompliance” with NCAA rules.

Yeager said during a teleconference with reporters that Sampson told the committee he had rationalized the violations as not being that serious because they didn’t involve such notorious activities as making material offers to recruits to attend Oklahoma.

But Yeager said phone calls are an important part of developing relationships with players that are crucial to successful recruiting, and Sampson and his staff intentionally violated phone-call rules to gain an upper hand with recruits.

“There really are no insignificant recruiting rules,” Yeager said. “With this kind of volume of violations, that’s a very serious case.”

The violations were particularly troubling, he said, because they came while Sampson served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which had launched a highly publicized effort to clean up unethical behavior by coaches.

“At a time when the NABC identified impermissible phone contact as a serious issue and the organization was calling on its membership to be accountable, (Sampson) and his staff were engaged in a pattern of willful and significant recruiting violations,” Yeager said.

Before the NCAA made its decision, IU adopted several penalties against Sampson that Oklahoma had imposed. Those penalties included reductions in recruiting calls, limits on off-campus recruiting through June 30, a public letter of reprimand and limits on Sampson’s salary and bonuses.

According to the report, IU officials noted to the committee that Sampson used 15 of his 19 allowable days to recruit off-campus while at Oklahoma, and he could be off-campus to recruit only four days from when IU hired him through June 30.

“We felt the self-imposed penalties were significant, but we knew that there could be further sanctions and we accept them,” IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan said in a news release. “We appreciate the NCAA’s prompt action in the adjudication of this matter.

“In addition to being an outstanding basketball coach, coach Sampson is a man of highest character, and from the outset he has been extremely forthright about this situation. While these sanctions do present an immediate challenge, we are excited about the future with coach Sampson at the helm of the program.”

Sampson is in Kuwait coaching in a military basketball tournament. But he commented briefly on the NCAA decision through a press release.

“I have learned an invaluable lesson, and I hope that this reinforces to other coaches the importance of every aspect of NCAA compliance,” Sampson said. “I am fortunate to have a quality, veteran staff who has built and maintained a high standard in all aspects of coaching, particularly in recruiting.”

The NCAA penalties won’t permit Sampson to make recruiting phone calls or engage in off-campus recruiting activities from May 25 – yesterday – through May 24, 2007.

But Sampson will still be permitted to send text messages to recruits by cell phone, which has become very popular with coaches, and to send e-mail and traditional mail.

Sampson will still be allowed to receive phone calls from recruits and to meet with them when they make recruiting trips to IU.

The infractions committee put Oklahoma on two years probation.

It also adopted several different recruiting limitations that Oklahoma had imposed upon itself, as well as a self-imposed reduction in Oklahoma’s basketball scholarships from 13 to 11 in 2005-06 and from 13 to 12 in 2006-07.

NCAA findings

• 577 impermissible recruiting phone calls

• Failed to monitor staff and created and encouraged an atmosphere of deliberate noncompliance

• Attempted to avoid detection by not recording all calls in written logs as required


• No recruiting phone calls or trips until May 24, 2007

• IU has adopted a public letter of reprimand and prohibitions on any raises or bonuses before March 1, 2007

• IU’s compliance staff and basketball operations monitor recruiting activities