Last-second loss perfect end to miserable day for IU fans

Last-second loss perfect end to miserable day for IU fans

by Doug Wilson, H-T sports editor

February 14, 2008

Indiana fans won’t forget Brian Butch’s banked 3-pointer for a long time.

It was an apt ending to a memorable, if dismal, day for Hoosier basketball fans.

Butch’s high, hard one with 4.5 seconds left caromed in to transform a one-point deficit into a 68-66 Badger win. It ended a game that had fans at Assembly Hall cheering with vigor as a hard-fought contest between two good teams teetered back and forth until the final seconds.

“Sometimes it’s better to be luckier than good,” Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson observed.

But before that happened, IU released a list of NCAA allegations Wednesday morning that put Sampson’s future in doubt and had some fans booing his introduction before the game.

According to the NCAA, Sampson knowingly violated recruiting restrictions at IU from his previous violations at Oklahoma and he “repeatedly provided (IU) and the enforcement staff false information.”

After doing some looking into it, the NCAA rejected Sampson’s assertions that he didn’t know he was participating in three-way calls and didn’t know his assistants were making dozens of calls that exceeded the restrictions to which IU had agreed.

The details of Sampson’s explanations have never made sense to people familiar at all with how recruiting — and telephones — generally work.

The NCAA report said Sampson “failed to deport himself … with the generally recognized high standard of honesty” and “failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the men’s basketball program.”

That “failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance” line is a repeat of what the NCAA said to Sampson last time he was in trouble.

In his post-game press conference, Sampson read a short statement saying it’s untrue he provided false or misleading statements to the NCAA or “intentionally acted contrary to the sanctions imposed on me for violations that occurred while I was at Oklahoma.”

Sampson refused to answer any questions about the NCAA allegations. He said he’ll make no further comment about it until the NCAA has wrapped up its handling of the matter.

The questions won’t go away. At a school that hasn’t had a major NCAA violation since 1960, Sampson owes Indiana’s fans and financial supporters some further explanation of his actions.

D.J. White said after the game that the latest NCAA news didn’t affect IU’s play because the team is a family.

But within that family, what kind of example is Sampson setting for a guy like DeAndre Thomas who had his best few minutes of play lately Wednesday? I don’t know Thomas well, but from what I do know he seems like a young man who could blossom from the lessons and experiences he gains at IU.

He has already learned some of those lessons. He’s learning about loyalty, hard work and sticking together. But what about telling the truth, following the rules and owning up to your mistakes?

Sampson said on an Indianapolis TV station this week that the NCAA investigation is a personal matter that has no impact on his team.

Perhaps that’s a well-intended statement, but it’s certainly not accurate.

The investigation may not have much effect on this year’s team, which continues to improve and play well. But we saw Wednesday that it has the potential to have all the Hoosiers playing for a new coach next season.