Bloomington, Ind. – IU's basketball season went from plenty of promise to the precipice in a hurry.
On Sunday, IU Director Athletics Rick Greenspan announced a series of self-imposed sanctions on Kelvin Sampson's basketball program and staff for a series of improper phone calls made during the 2006-07 season. The sanctions come as a result of an internal investigation that determined the staff had not only made excessive phone calls to prospective recruits, but that Sampson had made contact with recruits that was in violation of the NCAA sanctions imposed on him in the wake of his troubles at Oklahoma.
IU response has been to strip itself of one scholarship for the 2008-09 season and it has banned assistant coach Rob Senderoff from making recruiting phone calls or from recruiting off-campus for the next 12 months. Sampson has also voluntarily foregone a $500,000 raise that was due to him for the 2007-08 season.
Indiana University officials are clearly hoping that their actions will satisfy the NCAA, which will undoubtedly put another set of eyes on what has unfolded. IU's report – which was put together by the Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller - has been provided to the Infractions Committee. Another report is being prepared for the NCAA's enforcement staff due the 35 excessive phone calls to prospective student-athletes that was uncovered by a review of telephone records.
One can certainly applaud the proactive response by IU officials in this matter, from uncovering the issues in the first place to hiring an independent law firm to look into them further. But rest assured that IU's swift response and subsequent act of self-discipline is its attempt at throwing itself at the mercy of the court, which in this case will be the NCAA's Infractions Committee.
There's little doubt that Greenspan and IU officials know just how bad this looks.
Sampson and his staff not only violated the exact same rules that his staff did at Oklahoma (albeit, 35 times as opposed to more than 500), but they circumvented the NCAA's penalties for the wrongdoings at Oklahoma - whether knowingly or unknowingly. While IU's release on the matter fingers Senderoff as the culprit for having facilitated a couple of three-way phone calls with himself, Sampson and a prospective recruit during Sampson's contact ban, it's a big leap of faith to believe there was no complicitity with what was going on.
No matter how you look at it, it doesn't look good for Sampson, Greenspan, or the IU program.
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