DECKER: Program Left in "Tatters"

A second look at Michael McRobbie's closing statement to the NCAA Infractions Committee, plus some thoughts on Rick Greenspan's resignation package...

Bloomington – What kind of shape is the IU basketball program in these days?

IU President Michael McRobbie's assessment isn't an overly flattering one. In the recently released transcript of McRobbie's closing remarks to the NCAA Infractions Committee last month, McRobbie delivered a sobering statement about the work ahead for new IU Coach Tom Crean.

"What was once one of the nation's proudest programs is in tatters," McRobbie said.

While rebuilding a roster that's been gutted by dismissals and defections will be a challenge for Crean and his staff, it pales in comparison to the task of repairing the program's reputation. Indiana fans and alums will no longer be able to boast about a program that has been about winning without running afoul of the NCAA for nearly 50 years. That's a reality that McRobbie said has left him infuriated with Kelvin Sampson and his staff.

"These coaches were entrusted not just with the success of our men's basketball program, but with the good name of Indiana University," McRobbie said. "I am not just saddened, I am angry that they betrayed that trust."


Speaking of trust, it continues to be clear IU officials had a little bit too much of it for Sampson and his staff.

In McRobbie's statement to the NCAA, he echoed many of the same thoughts that he made when the NCAA's Notice of Allegations originally went public in February. In announcing a one-week investigation into the NCAA's charges 4 ½ months ago, McRobbie included a pointed defense of IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan and the IU compliance department.

"We have arrived at this painful situation because the athletics director and his compliance staff did their jobs," McRobbie said Feb. 15.

During his final comments to the Infractions Committee he didn't waver on his defense of the job IU did in attempting to monitor Sampson's activities.

"As president of this university I will say to you today that the NCAA's investigation— indeed our own investigation— has led me to conclude that our compliance program was comprehensive and it worked," McRobbie said.

McRobbie does have a point in that IU did uncover the violations and self-reported them to the NCAA. But it has since become clear that Sampson and members of his staff had been breaking the rules and attempting to circumvent the NCAA's restrictions on Sampson for nearly a year before the compliance department uncovered any wrongdoing.

That's not a defense for Sampson – everyone not named Kelvin Sampson appears to believe he knowingly and intentionally violated the rules – but it's not a ringing endorsement of the job the compliance department did, either. They appeared to place a level of trust in what Sampson's staff was saying and reporting on its recruiting phone call logs that was both unwarranted and undeserved.


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column suggesting that someone at an administrative level needed to face some consequences for what unfolded during Kelvin Sampson's tenure. It seemed unfathomable that no one in either university or athletic department administration had been held accountable for Sampson's wrongdoings.

That finally changed late last week, as IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan announced his intentions to resign effective Dec. 31, 2008, in the aftermath of the basketball program's troubles.

Greenspan's exit will be cushioned by a resignation package that will pay him a lump sum of $369,500 in mid-January, plus monthly payments of $6,000 in 2009. A portion of that $6,000 payment could be eliminated if Greenspan finds employment elsewhere in the next calendar year, but IU's bill will easily top $400,000.


Greenspan's resignation agreement includes the usual verbiage to keep him from suing the university at a later date, but the agreement does have an odd component to it –Greenspan maintains the right to write and publish a book about his time as IU's athletic director.

Considering the oddity of such a clause in an agreement, one can only assume Greenspan made a point of insisting it be included, and that he intends to do some sort of "tell all" at some future date about the Sampson hiring/era.

Of course, one could argue that a more noble course of action would have been to actually speak publicly about what was happening when it was actually happening instead of waiting for an opportunity to profit from IU's misfortune. But that doesn't appear to be the path chosen by many these days.

Come to think of it, maybe Indiana University should have insisted on a percentage of the proceeds from any book Greenspan wrote about the Sampson era. After all, when you add in the $750,000 the university paid Sampson to exit, IU is now down $1.15 million and counting...

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