DECKER: One Person To Blame For This Mess

Bloomington, Ind. – Chaos is the course of the day for IU basketball, and there's only one person responsible for what's been unfolding...

Bloomington, Ind. – Chaos is the course of the day for IU basketball.

From unannounced press conferences to secret meetings between players and athletics decision makers to boycotted practices, it's anything but business as usual for the Hoosiers.

In a situation that's changing by the minute, Kelvin Sampson is all but out as the Hoosiers' basketball coach, replaced by Dan Dakich on an interim basis. Whether that's via a buyout or a suspension or a termination, the one thing that appears certain is that Sampson has coached his last game as IU's head basketball coach.

Beyond that, everything else still appears unclear.

Indiana is scheduled to depart for Northwestern Saturday morning with its Big Ten title hopes on the line, and it's uncertain who will be on the team bus. The Bloomington Herald Times reported today that D.J. White, Armon Bassett, Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas, Brandon McGee and Jordan Crawford were all no shows for practice, apparently upset by Sampson's exit and/or the decision of IU administrators to name Dakich as the interim head coach instead of Ray McCallum.

It's bedlam bordering on anarchy in Bloomington right now, and fingers are being pointed in plenty of directions.

Many are angered with IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan for not only the handling of the situation but also the decision to hire Sampson in the first place. There are quite a few IU fans who would like to see him catch the second train out of town after Sampson.

Others are upset with the players for their revolt, and many are suggesting that anyone who doesn't want to be with this team should be shown the door as well.

The Hoosier players, meanwhile, don't seem to be overly enamored with Dakich based on six of their decisions to not show up for practice this afternoon.

But in the end, there's only one person responsible for this mess. And that's Kelvin Sampson.

It's important for Sampson's supporters – his players included – to realize this is a very different situation than the one that transpired with Mike Davis two years ago or even with Bob Knight eight years ago.

In Davis' case, players were ready to walk because they didn't think he deserved to be asked to leave due to a lack of success on the court. They thought his march to the 2002 Final Four and his team's modest success was enough to warrant his keeping his job.

In Bob Knight's case, supporters pointed to his three national championships, his 600-plus victories, and his exemplary record of NCAA rules compliance as evidence that he didn't deserve to be given his walking papers due to his violating Myles Brand's zero tolerance policy.

Those are in no way comparable to what's unfolded with Sampson, who came to Bloomington with NCAA baggage, and then broke the very same rules that he ignored at Oklahoma. To make matters worse, he apparently lied to NCAA and Indiana investigators when asked about his knowledge of his indiscretions.

While he's repeatedly denied knowledge of any wrongdoing, his explanations of his involvement in the three-way calls were laughable, and his insistence to point the finger at everyone else other than himself is shameful.

If that's not reason enough to be told to leave – immediately - I don't know what is.

His players obviously don't feel the same way, most likely out of a sense of loyalty since he recruited many of them and has them off to a 22-4 start this season and in contention for a Big Ten title.

I can forgive the players for their support, as misguided as it might be. They're 18-22 year old kids who are trying to take some control of the situation.

But the same can't be said for Sampson.

Now, his players run the risk of throwing a way a chance at a Big Ten title and possibly their IU scholarships by walking out a university that is footing the bill for the educations. If - and that's an important word - if Sampson is in any way encouraging the players to stage this boycott (or refusing to step in and convince them it's not in their best interest), then it's perhaps the most self-serving, selfish act I've witnessed in recent memory.


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