Trustees say Sampson’s problems with NCAA won’t hurt IU

Trustees say Sampson’s problems with NCAA won’t hurt IU

Contract that allows for coach’s termination if he faces more sanctions is just a precaution, officials say

By Doug Wilson, H-T sports writer

May 15, 2006

Top Indiana University officials don’t expect the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations at Oklahoma to become a problem for IU’s basketball program.

Local concerns about the investigation picked up last week after the disclosure of stipulations regarding NCAA penalties in the contract of new IU basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. The stipulations allow IU to “take further action, up to and including termination” if the NCAA imposes “more significant penalties or sanctions than the University of Oklahoma’s self-imposed sanctions.”

But IU trustees Jeff Cohen, Steve Ferguson and Pat Shoulders said those stipulations are merely precautions and IU doesn’t anticipate having to use them.

“We don’t expect the NCAA investigation to be a problem for coach Sampson or Indiana University, and expect to have it behind us soon,” said Shoulders, an Evansville attorney, in a telephone interview. “We’re extremely optimistic for the future.”

While Sampson was head coach at Oklahoma, he and his assistant coaches made more than 550 impermissible phone calls to potential recruits, according to the NCAA investigation.

Those violations were a concern for IU, but before hiring Sampson, IU officials performed thorough research on the violations and the investigation, Ferguson said. The officials talked with sources in Oklahoma and elsewhere, he said, and were convinced the investigation wasn’t something to be that concerned about.

“Everyone said he ran a clean program,” said Ferguson, the trustees’ president and chairman of Bloomington’s Cook Group.

Ferguson pointed out that the NCAA rules Oklahoma violated have since been changed.

At the time, the NCAA didn’t allow coaches to make phone calls to high school juniors and allowed just one call per week to high school seniors. Now, the NCAA allows one call per month to juniors and two per week to seniors.

All three trustees said they’re impressed by what they’ve seen from Sampson in his six weeks at IU.

“I have great confidence in Kelvin Sampson,” Cohen said in an e-mail. “He is a true professional and a winner. He will do great things for Indiana University and the basketball program.”

The most recent step in the investigation was an NCAA infractions committee hearing with Sampson and Oklahoma officials on April 21.

The next expected step is an NCAA announcement on whether it will impose penalties beyond Oklahoma’s self-imposed sanctions. Those sanctions for 2005-06 and 2006-07 include recruiting restrictions and freezing Sampson’s salary at $1.01 million.

There’s no official word on the timing of the NCAA’s decision, but it is expected next month. If the NCAA does impose additional sanctions against Sampson, they could follow him to IU.

Sampson said in a press conference last week that he doesn’t have any news on the investigation.

“I do know that every coach in the country has stipulations in his contract about rules stuff,” Sampson said. “I’ll be glad when I can talk with you guys about that.”