Reaction to final fallout for Indiana, Sampson
After a long and tenous investigation, former Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson rightfully received tough punishment from the NCAA for his repeated failure to abide by established rules governing phone calls to recruits. His infractions are well documented – abuse and his subsequent cover-up. Yet, when you read Sampson’s statement – released after the NCAA’s official announcement on Tuesday – you wonder if he actually gets it, or if he ever will.
Sampson’s statement read: “I’m deeply disappointed in today’s findings by the NCAA, but the accusations at hand are things that happened on my watch and therefore I will take responsibility. I am truly sorry that there were so many people who were hurt in this situation. For the sake of everyone involved, including my family, it is time to move on.”
The problem is, it’s easy for Sampson to move on. He’s now an assistant with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Although he received a five-year show-cause penalty from the NCAA, which in essense bans him from collegiate coaching for half a decade, Sampson’s career in basketball continues without a hitch. And his “disappointment” at the NCAA makes it sound as if he believes he’s a scapegoat and not the main participant in a web of missteps and deceit.
Indiana, on the other hand, endures the brunt of Sampson’s escapades.
The Hoosiers were placed on three-years’ probation. Although they avoided an official post-season ban, IU’s self-imposed punishments left the basketball program with little or no hope of post-season play in 2008-09. As two lopsided losses in Maui prove (to Notre Dame and St. Joseph’s), wins and post-season play this season were already longshots. And that’s probably fair. Certainly, the former Indiana regime, headed by outgoing Athletic Director Rick Greenspan, took great risk in hiring Sampson from Oklahoma – knowing he was already on probation for impermissable calls. When you play with fire, sometimes you get burned. So Indiana had to shoulder a sizeable chunk of the blame.
Should Indiana have received a post-season ban? Perhaps. Then again, Tom Crean and his current IU roster had nothing to do with Phone-Gate. Maybe this sad episode has leveled enough destruction. Maybe the NCAA got this one right.