Could someone PLEASE get to the bottom of the only question that really matters anymore about the mess made by Kelvin Sampson's coaching staff?
During the next two days, members of the NCAA Infractions Committee will pepper IU officials, Sampson, former assistant coach Rob Senderoff and who knows who else with questions about three-way calls, phone logs and caller IDs. They'll make every effort to get to the bottom of who's telling the truth, who's to blame, and who's going to pay the stiffest price for the alleged major recruiting violations that occurred during Sampson's tenure as IU's men's basketball coach.
That's all fine and good, but there's almost assuredly one question that will go both unasked and unanswered, and it's arguably the biggest one of them all.
Who hired this guy?
It's a question that's irrelevant to these NCAA proceedings, but one that can't be simply swept under the rug. Someone at some point has to be accountable for the hiring of Kelvin Sampson.
The fallout from the Sampson era has been profound, the damage potentially lasting. Gone is virtually everyone who sat on the IU sidelines a year ago. Sampson's entire staff has been either dismissed or resigned, and the roster has been gutted. IU had to write one check for $750,000 to Sampson to depart, another one for $185,000 to interim coach Dan Dakich to do the same, and the program has been left with an uncertain future thanks to an investigative process that will reach nearly a year in length before the NCAA hands down its final ruling later this summer.
It's a mess, an embarrassment, and quite frankly a joke that no one at any administrative level within the university is to blame for what's transpired.
Are the impermissible and excessive phone calls Kelvin Sampson's fault? Absolutely. No matter how spirited a defense Sampson presents this weekend, there's no getting around the fact he either knowingly broke the rules or hired a coaching staff that thumbed their noses at the same rules Sampson had made a mockery of at Oklahoma. He's either accountable for his own actions or for those of the people he hired. That's the way the world works.
But that also holds true at a university level. It's not okay for an athletic director, a former university president, and a couple of influential trustees to point their fingers elsewhere and ultimately deflect responsibility from everyone who sits behind a desk. The hiring of Sampson has been cloaked in anonymity, and that's not okay.
If this was Athletic Director Rick Greenspan's call to hire Sampson, then he needs to be answerable for that decision as well as for why he didn't scour the staff's phone records from the outset for any hint of impropriety. If this was a move championed by a couple of influential trustees, then IU alumni have a right to know so they can voice their displeasure in the next Board of Trustees election. And even if it was a hire dictated by former president Dr. Adam Herbert, fans have a right to know that as well so they are assured that the responsible party will no longer be involved in making such important decisions when it comes to the athletics department.
It remains the biggest question surrounding the IU basketball program, and after this weekend it will likely remain unanswered.
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