Bloomington – There gets to be a point where you start to wonder…does Kelvin Sampson really believe what he says?
Has the former IU basketball coach convinced himself that he is without responsibility for the NCAA's investigation into the recruiting practices of himself and his coaching staff?
Does he truly think he should still be coaching the Indiana University basketball team despite the fact his coaching staff violated both the NCAA rules as well as the NCAA sanctions that he brought with him from Oklahoma?
Or does he think he's somehow capable of out-smarting or out-witting or out-spinning the situation to anyone who will listen?
One has to wonder after Sampson's latest public "statement," which was actually a press release distributed to media organizations Tuesday.
"In no way did I ever hide or withhold information from Indiana University's compliance department," Sampson's statement read. "I vehemently deny the inference that I made and concealed impermissible calls. The NCAA has never alleged that I initiated any illegal phone calls to recruits while serving as the head coach at Indiana. I always provided Indiana with everything they requested, including all documents and phone records."
While there might be a great deal of "truth" in Sampson's statement, it also does nothing to refute most of Indiana's claims in its recently-released response to the Failure to Monitor charge. It's a carefully crafted statement that covers all of his bases.
While Sampson denies making and concealing impermissible phone calls, that conveniently ties the two together – the use of the word or would have been much more convincing. Most believe Sampson didn't necessarily make the phone calls, but was subsequently put on the phone with recruits after an assistant coach placed the call. That's a claim being made by not only IU and the NCAA, but also a handful of recruits and/or their parents who have made statements to the NCAA saying that both Sampson and former IU assistant coach Rob Senderoff were on the phone at the same time.
The statement's suggestion that the NCAA never alleged that Sampson initiated any illegal phone calls is true, but again, it's also something that Indiana University officials have never refuted. All parties involved agree that Sampson didn't place any illegal or impermissible phone calls – that would have been much too easy to detect. But IU and the NCAA have insisted Sampson attempted to circumvent his sanctions by either having Senderoff patch phone calls through to him or by having his former assistant hand him the phone after he had placed the call.
Certainly Indiana University shoulders some of the blame for what's happened. After all, they did hire the guy in the first place despite his wrongdoings at Oklahoma.
But the suggestion that somehow the ultimate responsibility for what's unfolded belongs to the someone other than the head basketball coach who oversaw a staff that violated both NCAA rules and sanctions is unbelievable.
No matter what Kelvin Sampson says.
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DECKER: Does Sampson Believe What He Says?
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