Some Questions Answered, Others Remain

Bloomington, Ind. – Let the fallout begin. In a quickly assembled teleconference that was as muddied as the situation the IU basketball program now finds itself in, IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan, Coach Kelvin Sampson, and IU Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Grace Calhoun tried their best to provide some answers...

Bloomington, Ind. – Let the fallout begin.

In a quickly assembled teleconference that was as muddied as the situation the IU basketball program now finds itself in, IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan, Coach Kelvin Sampson, and IU Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Grace Calhoun tried their best to provide some answers to what unfolded with a series of improper phone calls made by Sampson's coaching staff, while also attempting to give some assurances that it won't happen again.

Greenspan said the issue originally surfaced in July, when a routine internal records review uncovered a series of impermissible phone calls involving the staff. From there, Greenspan initiated an internal investigation with the assistance of the Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller, which uncovered two problem areas:

- 10 three-way calls involving Sampson, IU Assistant Coach Rob Senderoff and a prospective recruit, which was in violation of the sanctions imposed on Sampson and the IU program in the wake of the Sampson's violations at Oklahoma;

- approximately 35 excessive calls made by Sampson's staff to prospective recruits, exceeding the NCAA limits on contact.

"I am profoundly disappointed that we are dealing with this matter, as is Coach Sampson," Greenspan said.

As a response to its findings, Indiana has reduced its scholarship total by one for the 2008-09 season, and it has barred Senderoff from recruiting off campus or making recruiting phone calls. Sampson, meanwhile, won't face any recruiting restrictions, but he has forfeited a $500,000 raise that was due to him in July.

"The self-imposed sanctions are very significant, and are intended to send a strong message of institutional control," Greenspan said.

While excessive phone calls is troubling because it's an identical violation to the one Sampson's Oklahoma staff committed that landed him in trouble and the Sooner program on probation, it's the three-way calls that could draw the wrath of the NCAA. Greenspan said the excessive phone calls is considered a secondary violation, but the improper three-way calls is in direct conflict with the sanctions Sampson was working under from May 25, 2006, until May 25, 2007.

Sampson's defense is he was an unwitting accomplice. He said that in all but one of those instances, a recruit attempted to call him but was unable to reach him on his cell phone. The recruit then contacted Senderoff, who then connected the recruit through to Sampson while remaining on the line. Three-way calls are generally permitted by NCAA rules, but Sampson's sanctions prohibited them.

"I found out about three-way calls after the looked at the records," Sampson said. "Rob was patching the calls into me, without me knowing Rob had made the connection. So when I answered the phone, the kid started talking. So Rob was basically an operator. Instead of hanging up, Rob stayed on the phone, because if he hung up the connection would be lost."

It might be some time by the NCAA ultimately decides what the fallout will be in Bloomington, but Senderoff is very much in the middle of the firestorm. He remains on the staff, but he'll be unable to be involved in IU's recruiting efforts until July of 2008. Sampson said he doesn't think Senderoff knowingly violated the rules, but he did steer clear of talking about Senderoff's future with the program.

"That's not something I'm prepared to answer right now," Sampson said. "He's at practice every day, he's doing a lot of administrative things, assisting Dan (Dakich). Rob has a lot of talents in other areas. The area that Rob made his mistakes, I think you have mistakes of omission and commission, I don't think there was an intent to circumvent the rules.

"Rob is on the floor every day, he's doing individual workouts. He's not making phone calls or traveling recruiting. We'll have to figure this out as we go."

Even if Senderoff did leave the program, Greenspan said the recruiting ban would remain in effect for whomever was in that coaching position.

Despite his claims of being unaware of the rules violations, Sampson figures to face plenty of public criticism as well. He's been on the job for less than 18 months, and the Hoosier program has now been the saddled with recruiting restrictions for a second time. In the wake of the latest news, he insisted he's striving for "100 percent compliance," despite the latest shortcomings in that pursuit.

"There's certainly no intent to think we're above the law," Sampson said. "The rules we broke were mistakes. Not mistakes with hitting our chest saying we don't have to worry about this. It was a mistake, and we take full responsibility for what happened. A lot of these were due to sloppiness or a clerical error, not that we were out front trying to do purposely."

Greenspan also figures to draw some ire as well. After all, he did hire Sampson last spring with the knowledge that he would be appearing before the NCAA Infractions Committee for the Oklahoma violations. Now, Sampson figures to be headed there again, with Greenspan once again at his side.

"I accept my responsibility for not only the positions I'm put in, but the actions which I contribute and the decisions that I make," Greenspan said. "I certainly am not going to judge myself. That's for others to judge.

"I would like to think despite our significant and profound disappointment that a couple things came through, one is that the work Coach Sampson has done in so many areas has been very significant and very meaningful to our fan base. The work he's done in terms of good and positive and effective recruiting and teaching and coaching of our young people. As far as his outreach to our fans, his charitable work and other things that will go on for a long time."

The biggest loser in all of this, though, could very well be the IU program. A program steeped in a tradition of integrity as much as success, Indiana Basketball has been muddied once again by this latest news, and it could be facing worse news from the NCAA down the road.

IU has presented its findings to the NCAA Infractions Committee, which is the body that handed down the original recruiting ban to Sampson. IU will next present a second report to the NCAA Enforcement Committee for the 35 impermissible phone calls.

IU officials clearly have their fingers crossed that their self-imposed penalties will be deemed severe enough by the NCAA.

"We've been advised by Ice Miller and others that our sanctions are quite severe for the problems that were identified," said Calhoun. "So we feel comfortable that we've imposed severe sanctions. We have a long and very proud tradition of rules compliance, and we intend to send a strong message that that's what we expect going forward." Top Stories