Bloomington – Tom Crean admits to dealing with a bit of paranoia these days.
It's a state of mind that has its roots in the yet-to-be-resolved NCAA case involving impermissible recruiting contact made by the previous coaching staff. IU's self-imposed sanctions has Crean's staff dealing with significant limitations on its own recruiting efforts, but Crean is equally preoccupied with making sure his coaches doesn't inadvertently slip up and do something that contradicts the sanctions.
"It's not a comfortable feeling, it really isn't," Crean said.
Crean's hope is that IU will soon be able to turn the page on one of the ugliest episodes in the history of the program. He said he has seen the university's response to the "Failure to Monitor" charge levied by the NCAA over the summer, and he's hopeful there won't be any additional sanctions handed down when the NCAA issues a final ruling on Indiana's case, presumably sometime this fall.
"The biggest thing to me is that the penalties that were handed out, they were very strong, they were intended to be strong, and they held us back." Crean said. "That's what they were intended to do, and they did."
Some might look at IU's 2009 recruiting class and contend that the recruiting sanctions haven't had a noticeable impact on the Hoosiers' ability to assemble a top-flight group of recruits, but Crean says it's obvious that the self-imposed penalties – which put strict limitations on the number of recruiting calls and on the number of off-campus recruiting days for Crean – had the desired effect.
"I'm living proof of what these penalties mean," Crean said. "I know we were able to get some things moving forward in recruiting, but it is a big deal when you can't be out on the road recruiting. It's a big deal that we don't have as many scholarships right now as everybody else."
Crean said the biggest impact was on the coaching staff's ability to spend as much time being out on the road scouting some of the younger classes. That's not something that's necessarily tangible at this point since those recruits are still a year or two away from signing letters of intent, but he said it puts his staff in a situation where they'll be playing catch up.
"You take away the ability to do your job the way you're used to doing it, the way your staff is used to doing it and the way your competitors are doing it, that's going to put you at a disadvantage," Crean said. "It hurt us."
Crean had to deal with the most stringent of penalties, which significantly limited the amount of time he could see recruits – and then he could be seen by recruits.
"At a program like this…when you can't be visible and you've got to rebuild a program and you can't go out there and do what you'd normally do, that's a detriment," Crean said.
The IU staff also found itself fielding questions from recruits as well, many of whom had concerns about what additional penalties could be on the horizon. While no one knows how the NCAA will eventually rule, Crean's belief is that past precedent would suggest that there shouldn't be much more that the NCAA would look to do to IU.
He also knows there are no guarantees. Indiana's response to the Failure to Monitor charge is due to the NCAA Infractions Committee by Sept. 17, and Crean said he's unsure exactly when the NCAA would issue a final ruling.
But he's hopeful that the worst is now over and that he can devote all of his time to rebuilding the program.
"I would hope we've paid our price," Crean said.
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Crean Hopeful IU Program Has "Paid Our Price"
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