DECKER: Criticism of Dakich Undeserved

There are plenty of fingers being pointed at Dan Dakich for IU's stumble across the regular season's finish line, but others are much more responsible for the problems facing the IU program both on the court and off...

Bloomington, Ind. – Dan Dakich has been falsely accused.

Indiana's basketball season appears to be coming apart at the seams, and many are ready to finger the two-week-old interim coach as the guilty party. After all, he's lost as many Big Ten games in eight days as former coach Kelvin Sampson lost in two months, so he must be responsible for blowing up this once promising basketball season.



If I'm looking at a line-up of potential suspects, I can find plenty who deserve the condemnation of the Hoosier faithful a lot more than the former IU player and long-time assistant who's been thrust into an unenviable position.

From my vantage point, Rob Senderoff looks a lot more guilty to me than Dakich. After all, he's the former assistant coach responsible for placing the majority of the excessive and improper phone calls, all of which he made without the knowledge of Sampson if you're so gullible…err…inclined to believe the former IU coach. And it's that mess and its subsequent fallout that's sapped the fight from this team at the most inopportune of times…

But Senderoff doesn't deserve all of the blame – not even close. How about a dose for former president Dr. Adam Herbert? While he's deflected criticism for Sampson's hiring during the last month, he always took a very hands-on approach to athletics during his tenure and might have had a Ouija-board sort of guiding hand in the selection of Sampson. Someone else might have "recommended" the hiring, but those underlings might have been strongly encouraged to make such a recommendation, by, say, their boss?

While we're taking swipes at the highest levels of the university's administration, how about the Board of Trustees? They ultimately approved Sampson's hiring, and Board President Stephen Ferguson was commended by Herbert during Sampson's introduction as IU's basketball coach two years ago for his involvement in the process. But Ferguson recently told the Indianapolis Star that his role was misrepresented by the former president, saying he never even talked to Sampson until after word of his hiring leaked. Funny how he waited until now to point out that out…

Next up is Athletic Director Rick Greenspan, the man in charge of the athletic department who was presumably responsible for identifying Sampson as a candidate, bringing him in for an interview, and recommending him for the position (after all, that is what bosses do). He knew about the troubles at Oklahoma, knew about IU's proud tradition of rules compliance, and either recommended or went along with the decision.

Like Ferguson, Greenspan has tried to deflect criticism by saying he wasn't as responsible for the hiring as some might think, saying a lot of people had a say when selecting Mike Davis' successor. But as is the case with Ferguson, that detail didn't come to light until Sampson landed himself and the university in hot water…

That finally brings us to the most culpable of suspects, Kelvin Sampson. I'm bewildered by the suggestion that anyone is more responsible for IU's on-the-court or off-the-court problems than the former IU coach.

After all, he's the one who knowingly violated his NCAA sanctions and then lied about it to university and NCAA investigators. He's never admitted as much, but to believe his story of being an unwitting accomplice would require a Grand Canyon-size leap of faith. You'd have to believe a handful of recruits and their families were either lying or mistaken in their recollection of events, and that Sampson is the only person in America who pays for caller ID but doesn't look at who's calling him when he picks up the phone.

Believe him if you want. But let's just say that Roger Clemens recommends Sampson not tell that same story in front of Congress.

Like Herbert, the Board of Trustees, and Greenspan, Sampson has never accepted responsibility for what's happened. Through it all, the only one who's accepted any level of responsibility is Dakich.

"It's on me," Dakich said after the Hoosiers were thumped by Michigan State eight days ago, an understandable result considering everything that had unfolded in the previous 10 days. "These kids have been through a lot, and it's my responsibility to make sure we're 100 percent ready to go.

"If I want to be the guy that everyone pats on the back (when we win), then I can certainly handle being the guy that everyone kicks in the you know what (when we lose)."

Kudos to Dan Dakich for being the one person who's tried to shoulder some responsibility for what's going on in Bloomington these days.

Of course, he's the only one of the bunch that doesn't deserve it. Top Stories