February 13, 2008

NCAA report details violations at Indiana

Indiana head men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson has been cited by the NCAA for acting "contrary to the NCAA principles of ethical conduct" for knowingly violating recruiting restrictions that had been placed upon him, according to a report released by the NCAA Wednesday.

The report details multiple instances of Sampson violating the sanctions imposed upon him in May 2006 by the NCAA after it was discovered that he had made more than 500 impermissible phone calls while he was head coach at Oklahoma. Sampson's penalties followed him to Bloomington, and he was banned from making recruiting phone calls, participating in three-way phone calls or conducting off-campus recruiting visits from May 25, 2006-May 24, 2007.

Indiana self-reported violations in October 2007 detailing impermissible phone calls made by assistant coaches Rob Senderoff and Jeff Meyer, and Sampson said at the time he unknowingly had participated in some three-way calls in which Senderoff called recruits then patched Sampson through without Sampson knowing Senderoff was still on the line. Senderoff was later fired.

The NCAA's report on the most recent violations, which was released Wednesday, contends that Sampson, in fact, knowingly took part in the three-way phone calls and repeatedly violated the sanctions that had been placed upon him. There also was the allegation that Meyer had provided prospect Derek Elston, who later committed to Indiana, an improper benefit when he gave Elston's high school coach a backpack and a t-shirt during an IU basketball camp with the understanding Elston was to receive the items when he returned home.

"I will say what I have said throughout, that I'm personally, professionally and profoundly disappointed that there is even a hint of inappropriate behavior," Greenspan said during an afternoon press conference. "I will state that these are allegations and both as an institution and the NCAA as an organization believes in due process and that's what we should provide."

As for the status of Sampson following these new findings, Greenspan added that he expects the Indiana head coach to be on the bench tonight against Wisconsin.

"I expect him to coach tonight," he said. "I expect him to coach in the foreseeable future...I think what it means to me is that we have work to do, and while we're going to be expedient, which I think is what is expected of us, we're also not going to rush to judgment and have a faulty conclusion."

Here is a summary of the allegations:

  • Sampson knowingly participated in three-way phone calls with Senderoff and prospects Yancey Gates, William Buford, DeJuan Blair, Demetri McCamey, Ayodele Coker and Devin Ebanks. He also participated in speakerphone calls with Senderoff and prospect Marcus Morris.

  • Sampson was present during one or more recruiting calls placed by Senderoff to prospect Kenny Frease in which Senderoff made phone calls to the student-athlete, then handed the phone to Sampson. Sampson also spoke with the mother of prospect Bud Mackey via Senderoff's cell phone while Senderoff was with Mackey's mother.

  • Records showed Senderoff also used his home phone for impermissible recruiting calls on a number of occasions despite Senderoff telling investigators that he had not used his home phone for recruiting calls. In fact, Senderoff placed at least 30 phone calls that were violations from his home phone.

  • Sampson and Meyer impermissibly recruited Elston during a two-day sports camp June 30 and July 1, 2007. During that event, Meyer told Elston's high school coach, Travis Daugherty, that Elston would be receiving a scholarship offer from Indiana in the near future. Elston, however, had not completed his activities in the camp, which made contact with him impermissible, and Elston returned to camp activities the following day. It was during this contact that Elston received the t-shirt and backpack in violation of NCAA rules.

    Meyer, a former head coach at Liberty, has acknowledged he made a mistake.

    "In my twenty-nine 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 in a statement. "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."

    Sampson was cited by the NCAA for failing 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 NCAA also said Sampson "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the men's basketball program and failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance of one or more of his assistant coaches."

    No penalties were handed down with the report because Indiana will have 90 days to respond to the allegations. That means the Hoosiers won't face any penalties before the end of this season, but the program could be facing more sanctions down the road.

    The most damning of all the allegations appears to be the citations for providing false information to the NCAA, especially considering Sampson was already under sanctions by the ruling body for previous infractions. Such an allegation could result in major penalties being placed upon Sampson, and depending upon the decision of the Indiana administration, could end Sampson's time with the university.

    Specifically, Sampson told the NCAA during a Nov. 13 interview that he was unaware he was participating in three-way calls with Senderoff and prospects or their parents/legal guardians. He also said he never spoke to recruits during impermissible periods, and he never spoke with a prospect on a phone call in which Senderoff spoke as well. Sampson also told the NCAA he had never spoken with Buford. The NCAA, however, found that Sampson had spoken with Senderoff and Buford during a June 16, 2006 phone call.

    Participating in a three-way phone call is not an NCAA violation in and of itself, but Sampson was banned from participating in any three-way calls under the sanctions imposed previously for the phone troubles at Oklahoma. Indiana imposed sanctions upon itself in October, including taking away a scholarship from the basketball program, but the allegations that Sampson provided false information to the NCAA could convince Indiana to terminate Sampson.

    With all the NCAA drama swirling, Sampson has said all season he would not allow the NCAA investigation to be a distraction for his team, but it looks as if that conviction is going to be tested this week.

    Ken Bikoff can be reached via e-mail at kbikoff@insideiu.com



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