Scapegoat or culprit?

You’re all familiar with the situation and who eventually got blamed for this mess.

In a time when we should be talking about Eric Gordon’s jumpshot and D.J. White’s chances at winning Big Ten Player of the Year, we’ve been sidetracked into discussing Kelvin Sampson’s phone records. Did he know they were three way calls? Doesn’t he have caller ID at home? All questions that were somewhat sidetracked during Tuesday’s teleconference.

Anyway, the real loser in this whole debacle (besides Kelvin Sampson’s public image) is Rob Senderoff, who a week before the college basketball season starts is out of a job. Whether or not he “voluntarily” decided to resign is one thing. How IU ultimately ended up at this point is entirely different.

What I’m curious to hear your thoughts on is how you feel on Senderoff’s role in this situation. Granted, he’s guilty of making the majority of the impermissible calls. But on the contrary, shouldn’t Sampson know what his assistants are doing? The arguments could go on and on.

So, bottom line: Was Senderoff simply the scapegoat in this whole situation, or was he really the one that should have gotten all the blame?


  1. It’s a tough situation. Senderoff was making improper phone calls from home.

    I feel sorry for him. I don’t think he should have lost his job.

    I think everyone, including the NCAA and every sportswriter in America, needs to step back and really think about what happened. Out of all the phone calls made, only a very small minority were improper, and most of them went to the same recruit.

    It’s hard to imagine Senderoff was trying to gain IU a recruiting advantage.

    The bottom line is that it wasn’t smart. But Kelvin has left no room for error for either himself or his assistants. Unfortunately for Senderoff, because he was the one who was not documenting his calls and was actually making illegal calls, he was let go. It’s understandable. and Indiana wants to appear clean.

    Indiana’s athletic department has helped make this a bigger issue than it is. At the same time, it shows their commitment to the rules. But, I think it’s hurt Sampson & Senderoff publicly. I tend to think the NCAA will not do much more than what Indiana has already done, and if they do, it will just go to show you how ridiculous the NCAA really is when it comes to infractions and rules. Just look at the response from Indiana when they found out what was going on. This is not a school that allows coaches to break rules.

    Kelvin can’t monitor his assistant coaches all of the time. McCallum and Meyer’s record is almost spotless. At Oklahoma, it was really only one assistant coach & Sampson involved in the illegal phone calls. It’s not like Kelvin’s history has been to have his entire staff breaking the phone call rule.

    I don’t think it’s wrong for someone to think Senderoff was screwed by Indiana. At the same time, I don’t think it’s wrong for someone to think Indiana did the right thing by tossing an assistant coach who was the root cause of most of this. It’s not an easy situation.

    Kelvin, by his actions at Oklahoma, left no room for errors or mistakes. He couldn’t afford to get sloppy, and he did. It’s not the end of the world. It shouldn’t and won’t cost him his job. But now he’s put a ton of pressure on himself. The best thing for Indiana fans is that Kelvin Sampson performs best when his back is against the wall. He’s really motivated when people start questioning him. Many of his teams at Oklahoma started out very poorly in the conference and finished very strong.

    Sampson is a fighter. He will recover from this.

  2. Can it be both? Seems he was the “most guilty”, but not the only one and wasnt the boss. But I agree with the decision to fire him. Gotta throw somebody under the bus, happens all the time unfortunately. Too bad too, he was a great pipeline to NY. He’ll be fine though with all those connections. Even if he cant get a gig immediately, someone will throw him a bone.

  3. It’s a tough call, but I saw culprit. Kelvin was allowed to talk to recruits, its just the way the staff got the recruits on the phone was against the sanctions. So the 3-way calls aren’t too big of a deal to me. However, Senderoff’s improper calls from his home were against NCAA rules, so he must be the one to pay for all of this. And apparently Senderoff initiated the 3-way calls, so it makes sense for him to lose his job over this whole fiasco.

  4. I think we went beyond the realm of reasoning in this incident. I agree that Senderoff should have been punished but honestly I don’t think phone calls warrent him being forced out of IU ( I don’t care wha the athletic department said, he was forced out). If these kids get bribed, if there was something shady being said to these recruits it would be a different story all together. Give me a break its just a bunch of phone calls, to me it’s the equivalent of somebody taking a note pad from work.
    I honestly feel that IU extremists are the people that are holding are program back, thinking that everything has to be perfect. No coach or program is perfect, period. We as a fanbase and administration better understand that or else we better be content in being an average basketball program.

    I’m very disapointed in Greespan that he did not have the brains to put the whole situation under perspective. Also I’m upset that he did not handle this situation the best possible way. Why couldn’t he release the report in conjuction with the press conference? That way we could have made our own judgement, without stupid reporters like Kravitz that we should fire everyone in the basketball program.

    I feel sorry for senderoff, and I hope he could continue a career in basketball. I will still root for my hoosiers, becasue the kids don’t have anything to do with this, but I’m very disapointed with my University’s lack of guts to stick up for a person who in the long run just made some phone calls.

  5. “In a time when we should be talking about Eric Gordon’s jumpshot and D.J. White’s chances at winning Big Ten Player of the Year, we’ve been sidetracked into discussing Kelvin Sampson’s phone records.”

    So, get back to talking about IU basketball already!!

    I’ve read everything there is to know about this stuff and I don’t want to hear anymore. I want to hear about IU basketball.

  6. I would have thought Senderoff is a scapegoat UNTIL
    I read that he was making as many as 100 calls a month
    from his home, yet signing off on the log as not making
    THAT is deliberate, and put the entire program in jeopordy, knowing about Sampson’s sanctions.
    He deserves to be fired.

  7. Greg,
    Trust me, I’m with you. But this is a developing story and we have to report on it.

    But, I for one am ready for Sunday’s exhibition game. I think watching D.J. and E.J. in their first game together should cheer us all up.


  8. I don’t see how people can blame Sampson for Senderoff making calls from his home. If Senderoff didn’t report them on the call log, then how is Sampson supposed to know? I realize Sampson is the Head Coach and is responsible for his assistants and the team, but he can’t monitor everything, especially when it takes place away from the office. Put this situation into a real world business context and it would be like someone giving out insider trading information to a neighbor and the boss of the company that the guy works for getting arrested too just because he is the boss. Makes no sense.

    Obviously Sampson should be punished for the handful of three way calls he was involved in, whether he knew they were three way or not. And he has been, more than a sufficient amount in my estimatation.

    In the end, I think IU got worried that maybe the NCAA would still come down even harder on the program and that is why they fired Senderoff. Maybe they got the feeling that the NCAA didn’t think their original sanctions would be enough and they wanted to make a statement showing they will not tolerate any breaking of the rules, especially the same rules that were broke before. I feel somewhat bad for Senderoff because the rules he broke weren’t worthy of being fired, but I think the past history of Sampson hurt him and that’s why someone had to go.

  9. Everyone was in the wrong in this situation but what can you do… Fire a coach of a major program on the brink of its best chance at a final four run in a long time? Someone had to go and it only made sense that Senderoff was the dude. I think the major idea was to get this behind them before the season truely begins this Sunday. The last thing you want is this to be carried on into this season and rehashed every few weeks. I like to think of it as the band-aide trick, get it off quick and take the pain all at once instead of slow and steady for a long time.

  10. Scapegoat is part of the job description in major college basketball. I feel bad for RS only because he is taking the most long term hit for what has happened. He violated the rules but the severity of the punishment to his future career is far greater than KS or anyone else. A little research and you will find many assistant coaches falling on the sword to preserve the head coach. Look at John Loyer in the last 1990’s. For ten years he was a big time recruiter for the UC Bearcats. Wen he messed up it wasn’t Bob Huggins getting tossed to the curve. It was Loyer. He will likely never have a shot in college basketball again after investing 10 years into making sure Bob Huggins had players to help him win and promote his career.

  11. Several of you have made very good points on the issue. It’s a tough situation, because Senderoff was IU’s top recruiter but at the same time was the one responsible for the majority of the calls.

    Sampson should have known this. He should have made absolute certain that no one on his staff would break the phone call limitations.

    How much would this situation have changed if IU wasn’t a top ten team this year? It’s an interesting thought, because we all know what winning does. And bringing Eric Gordon to Bloomington.

    So, my follow up question: If IU wasn’t expected to contend for a Big Ten title and possible Final Four run, would Sampson have been the one that was fired?

  12. How can you say Sampson “should have known” he was making calls from home and lying about it?

    Do you want him to have a camera on his people 24/7?


    So, any word on Zeller’s waiting until the Spring or is this all we’re going to hear about the next week?

  13. Yeah Laffy the rumor is that Zeller could very well wait until the Spring to sign. Couple that with the rumor that his parents were in Btown on Sunday, and hopefully he’s waiting til the NCAA makes a decision before he announces for the Hoosiers. But who knows, his whole recruitment has been a mystery. And he seems to be enjoying it.

    Zak, it also depends on our recruiting class for next year. With Ebanks and perhaps Zeller (or even Jones) coming in, getting rid of the head coach would probably cost us these 5 star players. I for one do NOT want to start over after the things Kelvin has done the past year and a half. So with our current team and potential recruits, a coaching change would be bad. If we weren’t any good, maybe I’d feel othewise. But you’d have to tell me how bad we’d be and how recruiting looks for the next few years for me to be able to answer that one.

  14. Jeff —

    Perhaps you haven’t yet heard. Bear Jones has just announced his commitment to play for Oregon State.

    No question he’ll be an impact player for the Beavers. It’d be hard not to be — OSU is projected to finish at the bottom of the Pac 10.

  15. Bottom line? I don’t think Senderoff is a scapegoat unless Sampson was telling him to make illegal calls from home and cover it up– and I find that hard to believe..

    I feel bad for Rob Senderoff, but not as bad as I thought I might. Maybe I should say I feel bad for his family. Clearly, the guy made some significant mistakes. I’d love to hear him explain why he was busily making calls from home without logging them. Didn’t he know any better?

    And this is a question that applies to his future too. Should anybody else hire him? If he didn’t have this all explained to him clearly and he made a stupid mistake and learned his lesson, maybe he can resurrect his career (although that would then reflect poorly on his current bosses for not making the rules clear to him).

    But if he had this stuff explained – and I honestly can’t believe that he didn’t understand that he was supposed to log calls from home – then he isn’t a scapegoat. Then he is the “real goat” – the real reason for the problems and may deserve what he’s gotten or worse.

    In fact, arguably, then he deserves a lot more for causing all of this trouble! Take away Senderoff and this is a minor deal and we’re not all wasting time on it.

    West Coast Hoosier

  16. No, Jeff, you’re talking about former Indiana recruit Eshuante Jones. Kevin Jones is still undecided.

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