- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS | The NCAA placed Indiana University on three years’ probation Tuesday for a telephone recruiting scandal that decimated the once-storied basketball program.

The governing body also imposed stiff penalties on an assistant and former coach Kelvin Sampson, who made more than 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits while still on probation for a similar phone-call scandal at Oklahoma.

The penalties cap a 20-month saga that began with Sampson’s hiring in March 2006.

“It’s bittersweet,” said current Indiana coach Tom Crean, with the team in Hawaii. “We didn’t want to lose postseason, scholarships or television. Thank God we didn’t lose any of those, so we can continue to move the program without the what-ifs.”

The NCAA faulted the university for inadequate monitoring when Sampson was hired but acknowledged the former coach’s conduct was “unprecedented.”

Sampson, an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, repeatedly has denied the violations and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“He ignored signed compliance agreements with the institution in which he agreed to comply with the penalties imposed on him and his program due to his commission of violations in the Oklahoma case,” the NCAA report said. “He ignored telephone penalties imposed on him in that case and committed the same type violations for which he had already been penalized during the same time that those penalties were in effect.”

The NCAA imposed restrictions on Sampson through November 2013 should he return to college coaching. Former assistant Rob Senderoff, now an assistant at Kent State, also faces three years of NCAA sanctions.

The probation comes in addition to sanctions IU already has imposed.

Only two players from last season’s team remain. The others were kicked off, transferred, graduated or left early for the NBA. The team has just nine scholarship players on the team instead of the 13 allowed after giving up scholarships because of the NCAA investigation and poor academic scores.

“I was gratified they accepted the penalties and added nothing new to it, and that’s good,” said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who’s in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. “They recognized that the program had been devastated by the penalties and the departure of virtually of the whole team. While it’s the end of a dark chapter, hopefully it is the beginning of a new chapter.

No Indiana sports program had been found guilty of a major NCAA violation since 1960.

Even though Indiana intended to closely monitor Sampson and his assistants, the university fell short, the report said. The school did not have a good system in place when Sampson was hired and had to develop one “on the fly,” and compliance officials did not follow on phone record requests in a timely manner and focused too much on collaboration with the men’s basketball program and not enough on adhering to requirements, the NCAA said.

Indiana officials discovered the violations during an investigation that began in July 2007. It reported the calls to the NCAA but characterized them as secondary violations.

The NCAA disagreed. In February, it charged the university with committing major infractions and accused Sampson of providing false and misleading information to investigators - an allegation Sampson continues to deny. It added the failure to monitor charge in June after Indiana officials testified at a hearing on the initial charges.

“The way I look at in retrospect, it was a hire that was questionable,” Delany said. “At the time I, like a lot of people, thought the guy had made a mistake and it was giving a person a chance. The compliance program was geared up but not to the level necessary.”

Indiana, however, contended it did everything possible to prevent the violations and argued that its self-imposed penalties should be sufficient. Those include stripping scholarships and strict limits on recruiting for Crean, who came from Marquette to take over the Hoosiers program after the university bought out Sampson’s contract for $750,000 in February.

None of Sampson’s assistants was retained, and athletic director Rick Greenspan announced his resignation the same day the failure to monitor charge was filed. He will leave at the end of December and be replaced by Indianapolis attorney Fred Glass.

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