|Indiana ready to defend itself vs. NCAA|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 11 June 2008 12:10|
School officials are scheduled to go before the NCAA infractions committee Friday in Seattle over alleged rules violations by former basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.
They will be trying to avoid penalties beyond the scholarship and recruiting restrictions the school imposed when the allegations came to light last year.
The case against Sampson was detailed in a 96-page report sent to the university in May and made public last week. The NCAA accuses Sampson of providing false and misleading information to investigators about more than 100 impermissible calls and knowingly violating NCAA recruiting restrictions imposed because of a previous phone-call scandal at Oklahoma.
What Indiana must do now is explain how all this happened while making the case it has endured enough punishment and made major changes through its buyout of Sampson's contract and reorganization of its athletic compliance staff.
A decision is not expected from the NCAA committee until at least late July.
``I felt the penalties that were self-imposed were significant and, of course, that's in addition to all the changes you just mentioned,'' university trustees president Stephen Ferguson told The Associated Press on Wednesday. ``Those are significant changes, and I don't know what more the university could do.''
Among the self-imposed penalties were Sampson's forfeiture of a $500,000 pay raise, the loss of one scholarship for 2008-09 and a one-year extension of the restrictions placed on Sampson and his staff. Indiana bought out Sampson's contract in February for $750,000 and hired Tom Crean away from Marquette in April as his replacement.
According to the NCAA's report, Indiana officials agreed with most of the facts laid out by the NCAA. But the university will likely have to answer questions on whether the alleged infractions should have been detected earlier and whether Sampson should have been fired when the allegations were raised last summer.
Those concerns have been debated for months by Hoosiers fans.
``When this all came up, I thought Sampson should have been on a short string already and I would have fired him right then,'' said Peter Obremsky, a former school trustee who was an IU basketball team captain in the 1950s. ``Why he was hired, I can't answer that one. That would be Adam Herbert and the trustees, and I suppose Rick Greenspan was involved to some extent although I don't know how much.''
Among the accusations are Sampson's participation in about 10 three-way calls. Former assistant Rob Senderoff is accused of making recruiting calls in the presence of Sampson and handing the phone to recruits and recruits' parents and coaches on recruiting trips, so they could speak to Sampson. The NCAA banned all those practices when it handed down the Oklahoma punishment in May 2006.
Sampson has repeatedly denied he was knowingly involved in three-way calls, and Senderoff and Sampson both dispute the NCAA's contention that they did not tell investigators the whole truth.
But the NCAA cited interviews with seven recruits, some of whom said Sampson, Senderoff and a third person were all on the phone at the same time. Sampson has questioned the credibility of the witnesses because he contends they made mistakes on dates, times and certain events that were discussed.
Questions also have been raised about whether school officials should have known about the phone calls earlier.
The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday that phone records show the three-way calls were marked on bills with the designation ``3W.'' Sampson wrote to the NCAA committee in his response that he was surprised the compliance office had not notified him of those irregularities until last summer.
One problem with the billing is that the alleged handoffs Senderoff made to recruits only showed up as calls from coach-to-coach. Some Indiana supporters believe the compliance office and athletic department did their jobs adequately.
``The university did almost everything it could,'' former trustee Ray Richardson said. ``A little better supervision in advance would have been helpful. But there is a presumption of innocence. I don't know when that certainty set in, but when it did, he (Sampson) should have been immediately disciplined, fired.''
The question for Greenspan, who declined comment through an athletic department spokesman Wednesday, and other Indiana officials is whether they've done enough to avoid more serious penalties, such as a postseason ban.
Many Indiana supporters believe the basketball program has been penalized sufficiently.
of things to rectify this situation, and I feel we've done everything we possibly can.''