Indiana faces another NCAA charge, uncertain future
By Dana O'Neil
Officials from Indiana University were in Salt Lake City the first time Kelvin Sampson met with NCAA officials.
They knew how egregious the NCAA considered Sampson's disregard of rules when he coached at Oklahoma -- in its report, the Committee on Infractions called Sampson's allegations "deliberate non-compliance, rationalizing the violations as prioritizing rules," -- and knew that they were expected to make sure Sampson did nothing wrong again.
On Thursday the NCAA decided IU's inability to keep Sampson's hand out of the cookie jar was every bit as offensive as the coach's lack of self control. After a hearing earlier this month, the Committee on Infractions notified Indiana that the school was also being charged with "failure to monitor."
While not as harsh as a lack of institutional control, the allegation could mean stiff penalties including additional scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions, a source familiar with NCAA rules said.
Even while the Sampson scandal took yet another scalp, that of athletic director Rick Greenspan who announced his resignation Thursday, angry and defiant IU officials vowed to fight the charges.
"Without question I am extremely disappointed in the new charges," Greenspan said in a statement. "I disagree with these charges, particularly since the NCAA Enforcement staff did not reach this same conclusion after their original, in-depth investigation. Nevertheless, the new charges must and will be answered."
A source told ESPN.com that the university had ample opportunity to take corrective actions against its coaches and did not. Also despite additional restrictions because of Sampson's violations at Oklahoma, the coaches were not watched appropriately.
Upon hiring Sampson, Indiana absorbed the penalties the coach had received at Oklahoma, including travel restrictions and phone calls to recruits. Because Sampson was not allowed to call recruits, the coaching staff also was prohibited from initiating three-way phone calls that involved Sampson.
In October an investigation at Indiana revealed that Sampson and his staff made 100 impermissible calls, including 10 three-way calls, in direct violation of the NCAA's punishment.
Yet the source said cellphone bills that went directly to the university's compliance offices were clearly marked 3W to indicate three-way calls and no one said anything to the coaching staff.
Also the source said an e-mail exchange between Greenspan and a member of his compliance staff said that "everything is great," with the basketball staff even though the subsequent investigation revealed rules were being broken at that time.
Charges against a university are nothing new when Sampson is involved. Before it could close the door on the 577 impermissible calls Sampson made, Oklahoma also was hit with failure to monitor. In its findings against the school, the NCAA Committee on Infractions said in part, "the coaches were taken at their word when even a cursory review of men's basketball office phones, cellphones and calling cards would have revealed myriad impermissible calls."
For Indiana, the Sampson saga has been a protracted program killer. It has cost Sampson, Greenspan and former assistants Rob Senderoff and Jeff Meyer their jobs; torpedoed a top-10 program into a NCAA tournament first-round crash and burn, and left new coach Tom Crean with a disaster to clean up.
Since taking over in Bloomington in April, Crean has dismissed two players (Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis); three others chose to leave and one heralded recruit, Devin Ebanks, asked to be released from his letter of intent.
When the Hoosiers take the floor in November, Crean will have one returning scholarship player -- seldom-used senior Kyle Taber -- and an uncertain future for his program.
The university's likely decision to appeal this charge means the committee will push back its decision on the original charges as well.
"It is extremely regrettable that the actions of a few have brought so much disappointment to so many,"' Greenspan said at his news conference Thursday.
Greenspan will resign, effective in December, and Indiana will have to find itself an athletic director to lead it out of this quagmire. The university is in the unenviable position of looking for a new leader to oversee a mess while Notre Dame also is searching for a new AD.
Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org