Greenspan, IU cut ties with Sampson

A tense and emotional week of speculation finally came to an end Friday night for Kelvin Sampson and the Hoosier Nation. The second-year Indiana head coach resigned while accepting a $750,000 buy-out this afternoon after it was made clear that IU did not want him returning to the sidelines for another game.

A tense and emotional week of speculation finally came to an end Friday night for Kelvin Sampson and the Hoosier Nation. The second-year Indiana head coach resigned while accepting a $750,000 buy-out this afternoon after it was made clear that IU did not want him returning to the sidelines for another game this season. At a 9 p.m. press conference this evening Athletic Director Rick Greenspan announced that Assistant Coach Dan Dakich will assume interim head coaching duties immediately as he will lead the Hoosiers into battle tomorrow night at Northwestern.

"I am able to report that we reached an agreement for Coach Sampson to resign effective today," said Greenspan. "I am pleased that we are able to part ways in a manner that serves the best interest of Indiana basketball and our university."

The beginning of the end for Sampson came when the NCAA issued a statement alleging Sampson of committing five "major" recruiting violations at IU while already under probation for similar transgressions committed at Oklahoma. Among the most egregious of these violations was the accusation that Sampson lied to both school and NCAA officials about improper phone calls to recruits while being investigated this fall. It was a charge that was likely to result in serious NCAA penalties when the institution held a hearing on the matter this June.

"We can't speculate on what the Committee on Infractions is going to do in terms of sanctions" said Robin Green-Harris of the Ice-Miller law firm. "We continue to believe that the sanctions that were imposed in October as part of our reports were appropriate. We are going to look at that as we respond to the Notice of Allegations to see if there are other sanctions that should be imposed, but we continue at this point in time to believe that the ones that were imposed are appropriate. That didn't have a bearing on what happened this week."

Last Friday after receiving notice of these possible "major" violations IU announced that they would be conducting a seven-day internal review of the NCAA' report and issuing a decision on Sampson's future by today. Greenspan gave IU President Michael McRobbie his report on the matter this afternoon.

"I spent I don't know how many hours, a lot of hours, reviewing material testimony, speaking to attourneys, speaking to advisors, spending time with (Dorothy) Frapwell, Bruce Jaffee," said Greenspan. "It was helpful, it was informative and I've shared an oral report with the president."

Greenspan was unwilling to discuss the specifics of that report. In what many see as an attempt to mitigate possibly severe sanctions against their coach and basketball program, IU desired to have Sampson resign, which he accepted after negotiating his $750,000 buy-out fee today. As part of his resignation agreement Sampson has agreed not to file any lawsuits against IU for wrongful termination.

"I think it was a decision that was reached quite honestly in the both parties' best interests," said Greenspan. "What I mean by that is that there was not a great appetite on either parties' part to be involved in a potentially contentious litigation. I think this helps the team, the players, the university to heal quicker and I think it gives Coach Sampson an opportunity come the hearing in Seattle in June to make his case as he sees fit in terms of those charges that have been presented against him."

Throughout this entire ordeal Sampson has maintained his innocence that he did not "knowingly" lie to investigators over his alleged illegal recruiting phone calls. He leaves Indiana with his team holding a 22-4 record overall and just a half game out of first place in the Big Ten.

"I have made the very difficult decision to leave my position as head coach of the men's basketball team at Indiana University," said Sampson through an official press release this evening. "While I'm saddened that I will not have the opportunity to continue to coach these student athletes, I feel that it is in the best interest of the program for me to step aside at this time.

"I wish my players and staff nothing but the best for the remainder of the season. They are all truly incredible people. As I have previously stated, I welcome the opportunity to go before the Committee on Infractions in June. I look forward to getting back on the basketball court in the very near future."

Dakich steps into the spotlight after a four-year playing career at Indiana under former Coach Bob Knight from 1982-1985 and as an assistant coach to Knight for 12 years in Bloomington. More recently Dakich was the head coach at Bowling Green University for ten years before returning to IU this fall as an assistant under Sampson. Dakich will now assume head coaching duties on an interim basis and current assistants Ray McCallum and Jeff Meyer will remain on his staff.

"Indiana University and the basketball program have played an important role in my life," said Dakich through a released statement Friday night. "I want nothing but the best for these players and the institution. The challenge ahead is to maintain the positive momentum that has been built within the team and to keep everyone as focused as possible during this difficult time."

Greenspan's decision to keep the rest of Sampson's staff intact was motivated at least in part by player sentiment and the desire for stability and continuity during a season already well in progress. The athletic director made it a point to emphasize their innocence in the current recruiting imbroglio that led to Sampson's resignation.

"Neither Coach Dakich or Coach McCallum were implicated in the NCAA Notice of Allegations," said Greenspan. "They understand the mission of the university, the history of the Indiana basketball program and the athletic department, and have a very good working relationship with all of our existing players.

"It was very important for both Ray and Dan to point out that we have not any concerns expressed to us in any way about any allegations, any NCAA issues and I know for both of them that's important for the public to understand."

Dakich's future as IU coach after this season remains completely undecided, but Greenspan indicated that he is not ruling out Dakich as a permanent head coach.

"I don't know that I would use the term auditioning," said Greenspan when asked if Dakich was in that position over the next few weeks. "I think Dan understands our expectations and that's to do the job as well as he can.

"I think he has an opportunity to make something special happen out of a tough situation, though."

Any timetable for making a decision on a new coach will admittedly not be a short one says Greenspan.

"We will probably exhale for a day or two and don't expect any great revelations in the next day or two or even week or two," said Greenspan. "We think we have a lot of season left to play with the kids that are on this team and these coaches. To not sound trite, but to be fair, we got work to do to make sure that we are supporting them first, before we get into the inevitability of rumors and second-guessing about coaches in the future."

Dakich and his staff's first task will be uniting an emotionally distraught and upset team. Several players, including team captain D.J. White, did not participate in an afternoon practice today held by Dakich. White also wouldn't deny that he and some of his teammates might not play tomorrow at Northwestern. Greenspan wouldn't dismiss the possibility of players boycotting tomorrow night's Big Ten contest, but he seemed assured that it wouldn't become a reality. He had talked with the players on two occassions today and he said it was his understanding that most or all of the players returned to Assembly Hall later tonight for a second session, the customary walk-through practice in preparation of tomorrow's game.

"I think much like any student-athletes they developed a strong affinity to a coach," said Greenspan.

"I think they are also young men that are respectful. They are respectful of Indiana University, the opportunity to play basketball here, the opportunity to still have I think a very special season so my expectation as they heal emotionally and as they re-familiarize with the coaching staff in slightly different roles that they will perform at a high-level."

Other Notes of Interest:

• Robin-Harris indicated that several of the recruits IU currently has commitments from have provisions in their letters-of-intent that allow for them to be released from that commitment due to a coaching change. No indication was given if any player has already made the request to be released.

• Greenspan did acknowledge that he and Dakich had a brief conversation about former Hoosier Damon Bailey joining the IU staff. "We had a very brief discussion about that, but absolutely nothing conclusive."

* When asked if he felt his job was in danger now, Greenspan said "I don't know. Nobody has told me that." He also said that he takes full responsibility for everything that happens in the athletic department as athletic director. Top Stories