Bloomington – Indiana University doesn't disagree with the details of the recruiting violations spelled out by the NCAA in its investigation into the IU basketball program. But it does dispute the seriousness of some of those infractions.
Indiana released its response to the NCAA's allegations of five major recruiting violations Monday, a 756-page document that basically agreed with the NCAA's findings. But while the governing body classified each of those violations as "major," Indiana contends that two should be viewed as secondary infractions and that the university's self-imposed punishment should suffice.
The university's response also places the blame squarely on the shoulders of former coach Kelvin Sampson and assistant coach Rob Senderoff. Two of the NCAA's allegations involve the unethical conduct of the two former IU coaches, and IU doesn't dispute that suggestion. In fact, IU's response notes that it found the allegations of their conduct as "the most troubling," and said it was the primary focus of the university in its review of the NCAA's Notice of Allegations.
"After careful and thorough analysis of the documentary evidence and interview statements, the University determined that it is reasonable to conclude there is sufficient information and evidence to support the majority of the specific information alleged, as well as the general charges regarding each individual," the report noted.
Indiana also didn't question the seriousness of the impermissible recruiting calls involving Sampson while he was banned from making such calls due to his sanctions from his days at Oklahoma. But the university points out that the university had a monitoring system in place, and that there was little they could do to prevent those violations from occurring. They said the use of three-way phone call made it hard to monitor, and that members of the IU staff neglected to record some phone calls that were placed from their homes.
IU did dispute the seriousness of the excessive phone calls made to specific recruits, saying that the calls were isolated and that violation should be viewed as secondary. IU's response also said the impermissible contact and extra benefit given to recruit Derek Elston should be viewed as secondary.
Ultimately, IU officials believed the fact it uncovered the violations and later parted ways with Sampson and his entire staff suggests that that university's self-imposed penalties should be enough. Indiana even went as far as to roll back a couple of the restrictions in April, giving new IU Coach Tom Crean 10 days to go on the road recruiting between now and July 31 (IU's self-imposed penalties had reduced the number of days IU's head coach could be on the road recruiting, and previous staffs had exhausted them before their departures) and also giving him back two of the six official visits that had been stripped.
"Indiana University continues to view this matter very seriously and believes the significant self-imposed sanctions and corrective actions…remain appropriate and sufficient to respond to the violations that occurred," the report said.
While Indiana has pointed the finger at Sampson, the Hoosiers' former coach is apparently pointing back.
According to CBS Sportsline, Sampson sent his own response to the NCAA regarding the allegations. In that seven-paragraph response Sampson insists he was emphatic with his coaching staff from day one that all rules and procedures needed to be followed, and that he was oblivious to any violations.
He said he and IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan exchanged "high-fives" when Sampson's one-year recruiting ban came to a close, and said both were unaware of the impending troubles that were about to besiege the program.
"I cannot adequately describe in words how stunned I was to learn from Mr. Greenspan later that summer that the compliance office's review of my staff's phone records had revealed possible violations," Sampson said in the statement.
While not singling out any of his assistants by name, Sampson clearly is directing the blame at his assistant coaches for the excessive phone calls as well as the three-way calls, which he maintains he had no knowledge of whatsoever. He also points his finger at the IU's monitoring system and presumably the compliance staff.
"With the recruiting call monitoring system we believed was being operated by the compliance staff, neither of us had any reason to think there might be issues," Sampson's statement said.
But there were issues, and ultimately Sampson's entire staff paid for it with their jobs. While Sampson accepted a $750,000 buyout from the university to expedite his exit, he said the experience has been a damaging one to both him and his family.
"My life since that day (when the violations were uncovered) has been a nightmare and my family has suffered profoundly along with me," Sampson's statement said. "I've been judged by many in the media and public to be a cheat and a liar and I have lost my job – all long before I will have had an opportunity to present my case to you and without Indiana University conducting a meaningful investigation into the allegations made by the enforcement staff."
Sampson will get that chance next month, when he and IU officials appear before NCAA Infractions Committee in Seattle to resolve this matter – presumably – once and for all.
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