Sampson denies intentionally breaking rules; Dakich new assistant

Sampson denies intentionally breaking rules; Dakich new assistant

Indiana coach stands by previous explanation regarding phone calls

By Chris Korman, H-T sports writer

November 2, 2007

Kelvin Sampson said Thursday that he did not willfully break NCAA rules.

During his regularly scheduled Thursday press conference the Indiana basketball coach tried to resist discussing the recruiting violations that have, in the weeks before a highly anticipated season, shrouded his program in controversy.

But when confronted with the fact that two sources told university investigators that they had indeed talked to both Sampson and former assistant Rob Senderoff at the same time during a recruiting call — which would have violated terms of his previous sanctions — Sampson stood by the explanation he offered in the report. He claims that he knowingly participated in just one of the 10 to 18 three-way recruiting calls that were discovered through inspection of his phone records. He wasn’t aware that the others were three-way calls because Senderoff stayed quiet after connecting the calls.

“I know what I know,” said Sampson, who had not been available to the media since Indiana released its reports on the program’s violations on Tuesday. “That’s all I need to say on that.”

When asked to confirm that he remembered it differently from the sources cited, Sampson said: “How I answered the question was the right answer.”

The university’s report on those calls, put together with the help of Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller, makes no attempt to explain the discrepancy in recollections, essentially setting Sampson and Senderoff’s word against that of a recruit and a different recruit’s mother.

As reporters continued asking questions about the calls, Sampson told them he would only talk about the basketball team.

“I am not going to get into that,” he said. “That’s enough of that. If you guys have questions about basketball I would be glad to answer those.”

When told that many fans were demanding more detailed information about his role in the three-way calls, Sampson said he did not want to interfere in the NCAA’s investigation of the incidents.

“The NCAA still has to come in and make their final decision,” he said. “And I’m not going to do anything to be a distraction to them. A lot of these questions I can’t answer. I wish I could.”

Sampson expressed regret about losing Senderoff, who, the university claims, voluntarily resigned earlier this week. The 34-year-old was actually forced to resign, according to sources close to the situation.

“There is no fun in that,” Sampson said. “But he is an outstanding young coach who will get a lot of great opportunities as he moves forward.”

Dan Dakich, previously the director of basketball operations, has officially replaced Senderoff on the coaching staff. He was able to participate in practices starting Wednesday, and has assumed Senderoff’s role of working with the post players.

Sampson is not sure who he will hire to replace Dakich. But he does know the job description for the position.

“I’m going to hire somebody to keep track of phone calls,” he said.

Dakich is not allowed to recruit off campus or call recruits due to Indiana’s self-sanctions, and Sampson’s ability to recruit has also been severely limited.

But Sampson wouldn’t say what effect that would have on his program’s ability to recruit top talent.

“We are determined to move forward and do the best we can with them,” he said. “How much it hurts us remains to be seen.”