NCAA makes case against Sampson

NCAA makes case against Sampson

Coach to stay in IU job despite NCAA accusing him of giving false or misleading information, making

by James Boyd, Herald-Times

February 13, 2008

Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson makes a point during the first half of the Indiana-Wisconsin basketball game Wednesday night at Assembly Hall. Wisconsin won the Big Ten battle, 68-66. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
From the Feb. 15, 2008 Bloomington Herald-Times

Despite new allegations that Indiana University men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson either misled or gave false information to both university officials and NCAA investigators, he will remain as the coach “today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future,” athletic director Rick Greenspan said Wednesday evening.

IU made the allegations public Wednesday, which could potentially be deemed “major” violations if proven true.

Sampson, already on probation for making impermissible phone calls to recruits while at the University of Oklahoma, now stands accused of continuing to make illegal calls to recruits, with the help of two assistant coaches.

The NCAA’s report alleges Sampson engaged in several phone calls, often as part of three-way calls initiated by assistant coaches Jeff Meyer and Rob Senderoff. Senderoff resigned last fall following the release of an independent report commissioned by IU to look into allegations of the calls.

That report, submitted by Indianapolis legal firm Ice Miller, outlined several incidents and more than 100 calls that are believed to have been made outside the scope of Sampson’s sanctions.

Greenspan said he talked with Sampson early Wednesday morning and had been in contact with IU President Michael McRobbie about the situation.

“There have been discussions from me to the people I report to about what our next step is,” Greenspan is. “And I think the most appropriate next step is to digest this material, to digest the implications of this, to review it, test the veracity of it, then make some decisions from there … none of those decisions have been made.”

Most of the allegations brought forth in the NCAA’s report stem from the Ice Miller investigation. Following the Ice Miller report, IU devised self-imposed sanctions for both Sampson and the men’s basketball program. Sampson forfeited a half-million dollar pay raise this year, and the team will forfeit a scholarship next season.

Greenspan said he hadn’t ruled out the possibility of future penalties being imposed on the coach.

“Any self-imposed sanctions moving forward will come out of some collective thought, some collective wisdom,” he said. “Yes, we’ve thought of that, but we haven’t made anything close to a decision on whether we have any additional self-imposed sanctions.”

Sampson is the highest-paid employee on the university’s payroll, earning $1.1 million in 2007. He wasn’t available for comment before Wednesday’s game against Wisconsin.

Included in the five allegations are reports that Sampson, Meyer and Senderoff failed to comply with the sanctions against Sampson from his tenure at Oklahoma. Senderoff and Meyer are believed to have made at least 25 calls to nine different recruits that violated NCAA rules. And during a summer sports camp last year, Sampson and Meyer are alleged to have had inappropriate contact with a recruit by giving the recruit two items of merchandise — a T-shirt and a backpack.

But most damning could be the allegations that both Sampson and Senderoff “acted contrary to the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly violated recruiting restrictions imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions,” according to the NCAA’s notice of allegations. “Sampson failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing the institution and the NCAA enforcement staff false or misleading information.”

The allegations were sent to McRobbie on Friday, but they were not released publicly until today.

McRobbie will not be commenting on the situation, IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre said, and IU Board of Trustees President Steve Ferguson deferred all calls to the university.

As for the university’s response, he said the allegations are just that — allegations — at this point.

“Everything in that document is an allegation,” MacIntyre said. “The title of the document is ‘Notice of Allegations.’ The word appears there over and over. There are no statements of fact. It will be up to the NCAA to determine if the allegations are either founded or unfounded.”

IU assistant athletic director for student development and compliance Grace Calhoun said the NCAA had looked favorably on the university for bringing the initial reports to light. It was an internal audit of phone records that initially triggered IU’s investigation, which then led to the Ice Miller report.

“IU has proceeded swiftly with a rigorous and thorough investigation from the moment the first instant of potential noncompliance at the time sanctions were spotted,” Calhoun said. “In regards to the new allegations, I want to point out that they’re all based on our own internal review and reporting. While the scope has expanded, all findings stem back from IU’s initial findings and self-report submitted in October.”

Indiana University Athletic Director Rick Greenspan speaks to the media Wednesday. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
From the Feb. 15, 2008 Bloomington Herald-Times

IU has 90 days to respond to the allegations, before they are considered by the infractions committee in June.

Should the committee find weight in the NCAA’s allegations, IU could face postseason ineligibility, depending on the severity of the allegations.

Meyer, though his Atlanta-based attorney Stu Brown, said he regretted taking any action that had a negative impact on the university.

“In my 29 years as a college coach, I have tried to maintain a reputation for integrity, fairness and good sportsmanship — values shared by Indiana University and the NCAA,” Meyer said. “I regret that I may have made mistakes that are causing my and IU’s conduct to be examined by the NCAA. I will continue to cooperate with both the university and the NCAA, and I will not comment on this process again before it is completed.”

Should the allegations prove true, the university would appear to have just cause in terminating Sampson’s contract.

There are several provisions in his employment contract that would allow IU to sever ties with Sampson if he was found to have violated NCAA rules.

“If (Sampson) is found to be in violation of any NCAA regulations, (he) shall be subject to disciplinary or corrective action as set forth in the provisions of the NCAA enforcement procedures, including suspension without pay or termination of employment for significant or repetitive violations.”

The most recent allegations would seem to fit the latter portion of that statement if true.

IU’s response to the NCAA will be crafted by university counsel Dorothy Frapwell.

“We consider this to be a legal issue,” MacIntyre said. “We’re obligated to provide (the NCAA) with a full and complete response, which we will do. We’ll help them get to the bottom of this.”

Greenspan said the allegations were disappointing. Earlier in the day, he’d called them a “grave concern.”

But for the foreseeable future, Sampson will helm the IU team.

“Kelvin’s coaching our basketball team,” he said. “In a perfect environment, we’d have a team that’s competing for a Big Ten championship and, as we’ve all heard and said, we want that team to be focused with a singular purpose. You want that team to, in the best way, avoid distractions. And that would be understating this, to say distraction.”

Kelvin Sampson sanctions timeline

2000-2004: Oklahoma head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff made 577 impermissible phone calls.

2005: Oklahoma froze contract renegotiations, salary increases and postseason bonuses for Sampson for a two-year period.

2005: An internal investigation determined members of Oklahoma’s men’s basketball program made or attempted to make impermissible phone calls to 17 prospects between April 2000 and September 2004, made three impermissible in-person contacts with recruits and improperly gave a T-shirt to one recruit and the parent of one recruit. The NCAA also alleges Sampson failed to adequately monitor his staff’s telephone calls to recruits during that period and the university had inadequate monitoring procedures in place.

March 29, 2006: Indiana hired Sampson.

April 20, 2006: Sampson signed a contract whose terms say IU “may 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. The provision was not included in the agreement Sampson signed when IU decided in March to hire him to succeed Mike Davis. The contract also gave Indiana the right to fire Sampson without obligation if his assistant coaches committed serious or repeated NCAA rules violations.

April 21, 2006: IU athletic director Rick Greenspan and Sampson attended an NCAA hearing along with Oklahoma officials in Park City, Utah. The hearing related to the impermissible phone more calls from 2000-2004.

May 25, 2006: The NCAA committee issued penalties on Sampson that prohibited him from making any recruiting phone calls or taking part in any off-campus recruiting for one year.

Aug. 16, 2006: The National Association of Basketball Coaches, through its ethics committee, sanctioned Sampson for the same recruiting violations that the NCAA punished him for, including three years of probation.

May 25, 2007: The NCAA sanctions against Kelvin Sampson were lifted upon completion of the one-year penalty.

Oct. 14, 2007: The Indiana University Department of Athletics announced that a series of recruiting sanctions and corrective actions are being imposed on Sampson and his staff after finding further phone call violations.

Feb. 8, 2008: IU received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA saying Sampson knowingly violated recruiting restrictions imposed for violations at Oklahoma, failed to deport himself at IU in accordance with generally accepted standards of honesty and failed to promote an atmosphere for rules compliance in IU’s basketball program. The notice refuted Sampson’s assertions that he didn’t know IU was violating the recruiting restrictions and it said he repeatedly provided IU and NCAA enforcement staff with false information.

Feb. 13, 2008: IU issued a press release in which Greenspan said he is extremely disappointed with the NCAA’s new allegations regarding Sampson. “To say the least, we view these allegations with grave concern and will cooperate fully with the NCAA as they adjudicate these charges,” Greenspan said.