More sanctions against Sampson

More sanctions against Sampson

Coach, assistant to forfeit raises, face other penalties after calls to recruits investigated

by Chris Korman, H-T sports writer

October 15, 2007

Indiana’s head basketball coach, Kelvin Sampson, addresses fans at Hoosier Hysteria Friday at Assembly Hall. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
From the Oct. 15, 2007 Bloomington Herald-Times

Indiana men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson is in trouble with the NCAA again.

The Indiana University athletic department announced Sunday that an independent investigation by an Indianapolis law firm determined that Sampson and his staff not only violated the terms of previous sanctions but have committed further violations by making too many calls to recruits.

As a result, the university has enacted punishment of the program that prevents assistant Rob Senderoff from calling recruits or recruiting off campus for the next year. He also won’t be eligible to receive a bonus or raise this year.

The Hoosiers will also lose a scholarship in the class of 2008, although Sampson has said that he rarely brings in 13 scholarship players. That final scholarship is usually reserved as a reward for a senior walk-on player.

Sampson also volunteered to forgo a $500,000 raise he was scheduled to receive during the second year of his contract, according to athletic director Rick Greenspan.

The NCAA will review two separate reports this week and will determine if further punishments are warranted beyond what IU has already put in place.

The first report, compiled by the law firm Ice Miller, has been sent to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and outlines how the Indiana coaching staff violated sanctions that were imposed upon them as a result of Sampson and his staff making impermissible calls to recruits while he was the head coach at Oklahoma. Indiana adopted those punishments, and the NCAA handed down a one-year ban on Sampson making calls to recruits or recruiting off campus starting May 25, 2006.

However, a routine review of the coaching staff’s phone records by Indiana in July of this year revealed that Sampson had been involved in “three-way calls that connected Sampson into an on-going recruiting conversation with prospective student-athletes, their parents or coaches,” according to an Indiana press release.

During a teleconference with reporters Sunday, Sampson attempted to explain what happened. He said that recruits – who were forced to call him since he could not call them – would often be unable to reach him. They would then call Senderoff to say they needed to talk to Sampson, and on “about 10 occasions” Senderoff connected them with Sampson.

Although three-way calls were not specifically banned by the Committee on Infractions’ ruling against Sampson in May 2005, they are being interpreted as a violation because they went against the spirit of those sanctions. That ruling prohibited Sampson “from making phone calls that relate in any way to recruiting or being present when members of his staff make such calls.”

Sampson said that on nine of the three-way calls, he was not aware that the call was transferred to him.

“You answer your phone and the kid is talking, you start talking to him,” Sampson said.

A second report, which will be sent to the NCAA’s enforcement staff, reveals that 35 calls made by assistants to recruits exceeded NCAA limits on the number of times an athlete may be called. Many of the calls came from assistant’s homes and were not reported sufficiently to the compliance office.

Sampson’s original sanctions stem from 577 impermissible phone calls he and his staff made from 2000-2004 while he was at Oklahoma.

As was his claim when those calls were brought to light, Sampson said the most recent violations were mistakes that came as a result of carelessness by his staff.

“We certainly don’t consider ourselves above the law,” Sampson said. “The rules we broke were mistakes. They weren’t mistakes where we were hitting our chest thinking we don’t have to worry about this. A lot of this was sloppiness or maybe a clerical error.”

He said Senderoff’s errors were of “omission and not commission.” He was not ready to discuss how Senderoff’s role on the staff might change.

Senderoff, 34, has been at practices with the team and, according to Sampson, is helping with administrative duties. Though he is known as a strong recruiter, Senderoff appeared to handle most of the play calling from the bench last year.

Sampson expressed remorse.

“Needless to say, we apologize,” he said. “We’re dedicated to 100 percent compliance. We think this is something that we can be 100 percent, not 99 or 99.5 percent but 100 percent, compliant on.”

Greenspan emphasized Sampson’s work in the community while acknowledging his disappointment in the situation.

“Indiana University expects full and complete compliance with all NCAA rules and sanctions,” he is quoted as saying in the IU release. “That is why I am imposing a new round of recruiting restrictions and sanctions on Coach Sampson and his staff. I want to send a strong message that nothing less than complete compliance with the NCAA is the standard by which we operate.”